Trafalgar Studios, London – until 9 June 2018
I do love me a bit of Anita Dobson so I was pleased to see her name appear in the cast for 3Women, the new play by Katy Brand playing at the Trafalgar Studios 2. An intergenerational take on women’s experience over the last 60 years or so, it promises a lot but doesn’t quite carry through.
Set in a hotel suite on the eve of a wedding, Debbie Chazen’s Suzanne has cracked open the booze and settled in for the night with her mother, Dobson’s gin-soaked Eleanor and her daughter, Maisie Richardson-Sellers’ gender-fluid Laurie. They have a lot to talk about.
Problem is, it’s all a little bit formulaic in the way that the one generation reacts against the other. Against Eleanor’s staidness, Suzanne indulged her hippy side; against that tradition, Laurie embodies every millennial trope down to a T. It makes ‘sense’ but it rarely convinces, too often characterisation is abandoned for issues.
The shining light of Michael Yale’s production is Dobson’s performance as Eleanor. Partly down to the fact that its the most nuanced of the characters, but also due to the innate skill of Dobson to imbue even the banalest of phrases or simplest of glances with a weight that respects all the experience of her womanhood. Brand’s writing would do well to reflect such subtlety.