In its depiction of two pawns caught up unwillingly in the machinations of the rich and powerful and its philosophical banter, Guards at the Taj reminds me a lot of Tom Stoppard‘s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
In this play, two girls on an East Coast shore are childhood friends. Now (in a rather overlong first half) they are school-leavers having all-night beach raves, necking absinthe and sniggering about sex in the manner of girls thee years younger: their territory a half-submerged WW2 pillbox on the shingle, on which they have scrawled memories of childhood and teens.
Designer Rūta Irbīte converts the stage into a section of the Suffolk coastline that writer Tallulah Brown grew up around and under Simon Gethin Thomas’ sun-bright lighting and Daniel Balfour burbling sound design, it looks absolutely gorgeous, transformative in the best possible way. And on this bit of beach, the tangled friendship of Ruby and Lucy plays out a key stress-test of a moment.