Trafalgar Studios, London – until 9 June 2018
Guest reviewer: Jac Bradley
For anyone who has ever doubted that women could be funny, I would urge them to drop into the Trafalgar Studios and take in one of the few truly laugh out loud plays I have ever seen.
Written by Katy Brand, a stalwart of British comedy in both TV and film, this marks her debut play; and I for one hope that it is the first of many. In a hotel room on the night before her wedding, Suzanne (Debbie Chazen) is joined by her mother, Eleanor (Anita Dobson) and her daughter, Laurie (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) to celebrate and reminisce as a family.
The imagery of three different coloured roses representing each of the three generations is a beautiful one; virginal white for the progressive daughter, fiery red for the hippy mother and funereal yellow for the traditionalist grandmother. Whilst these characteristics are placed on the three women, they are by no means stereotypes, far from it. Brand manages to weave such complexity into their personalities, giving reasoning behind the life choices that made them who they are, as well as a beautiful, totally believable, family dynamic that is both hilarious and heart-breaking.
Dobson as the matriarch is sensational. Able to do so much with a single word, she shows us why it’s important to understand the world in which our mothers and grandmothers came from. Her comic timing is impeccable, her cutting barbs delivered with pinpoint accuracy and her emotional upheaval searing. Chazen’s Suzanne is a joy to watch, somewhat bridging the generational gap, as a liberal and loving mother carrying the weight of her past until she contains it no longer.
Maisie Richardson-Sellers is charming as gender-fluid, individualistic, ambassador for change, Laurie. With the material given to her she could have easily come across as an irritating millennial but she brings such lightness and openness to the role that it’s impossible not to sit up and listen. The three work together sublimely, bouncing energy off of each other with not a moment dropped.
Direction from Michael Yale is delicate and precise and almost invisible, in that the focus is always upon the actors unfolding the story, with no fancy tricks.
Having never seen anything in Studio 2 of the Trafalgar before, I was a little taken aback by the intimacy of the space. I was tempted to wax lyrical and suggest that 3 Women go on to transfer into a bigger space, and whilst I believe that more people should have the opportunity to see this play, I would say that part of its power is in the proximity of the audience to the actors; The joy and the pain more keenly felt.
The whole production is a delight from start to finish. This beautiful display of talent deserves to be seen.