Scenes with Girls

Miriam Battye
Royal Court Theatre
Royal Court Theatre Upstairs

Tanya Reynolds and Rebekah Murrell Credit: Helen Murray
Rebekah Murrell, Letty Thomas and Tanya Reynolds Credit: Helen Murray
Rebekah Murrell and Tanya Reynolds Credit: Helen Murray

Scenes with Girls features a series of short scenes, all of which take place in a flat shared at different times by one or two women in their early 20s.

Played in-the-round, designer Naomi Dawson allows the actors to perform in what looks like a shallow, empty swimming pool, with a cramped, wall-less bathroom at one end.

The 80-minute-long evening comprises slivers of conversations, almost all of which circle around sex, although love does occasionally get a look in.

It may or may not be intentional, but the overall impression is of a kind of edited highlights session drawing on tiresome moments from a fictionalised series of Big Brother (or possibly Big Sister in this case).

The opening sets the scene for the evening, with an almost unintelligible discussion between promiscuous Lou played by Rebekah Murrell and Tanya Reynolds’s Tosh, for whom sex is more a talking point than an actuality.

The pair continue in this vein for some time, before the arrival of Letty Thomas playing underwritten, dull Fran. Although a figure of fun to her supposed friends, she is living what has for generations been regarded as a normal life, enjoying a monogamous relationship with her equally unexciting fiancé, Tristan.

For whatever reason, playwright Miriam Battye has chosen to present her characters in a complete vacuum, in which work, family and normal social interactions fail to make an appearance. As a result, the constant direction across conversation after elliptical conversation is on sex and feelings, rarely expressed with any clarity.

There are certainly changes in relationships and power shifts amongst the three young women, though these are also relatively limited.

There must be a distinct possibility that women in their early 20s will identify with the characters and be happy to ignore the evening’s concentrated focus on such a small area of these women’s lives.

It is also as likely that other viewers will struggle to empathise with or find much enlightenment in the activities of a couple of ultimately selfish women, whose life interests are so narrow.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher

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