Royal Court Theatre – until 22 February 2020
Lou and Tosh aren’t long out of uni. They’re housemates and best friends who share everything with each other, including their rejection of society’s expectation of young women to want a serious, monogamous relationship with a man. However, their opposing approaches cause some friction between them, people grow and change, and friendships between girls and women are extremely complex, so the feminist utopia they’re trying to create may not be as perfect as they hope.
In short, fragmented scenes that play out in their pastel blue living room, they dissect Lou’s sexual encounters, their progressive politics and their friend Fran’s lack of critical reflection on how frustratingly normal her life is. They are educated, articulate, and incredibly recognisable – despite some moments that are over-written.
As the young women explore how to most effectively live by their principles and how to apply them to unexpected events, Miriam Battye’s script gently points out that as much as we may try to be separate ourselves from the mainstream, we aren’t really that special. Also, we often spend a lot of time focusing on the things we want to reject, which usually aren’t worth the time we give them, instead of living our lives. In this case, Tosh and Lou spend much of their time talking about sex and men, rather than anything other than sex and men. Though there’s plenty of variation and the dialogue is often very funny, it’s a subtle reminder to give your energy to people and things you really want to spend it on.
Rebekah Murrell and Tanya Reynolds are Lou and Tosh. They both have the confidence and and awareness of many young people today, and want to do what they can to reject part of the status quo they disagree with. Their intentions are convincing and admirable, and their friendship is nuanced and intimate. They vibrantly embody Battye’s language with energy and passion, colouring the subtext with frustrations with themselves and each other. Director Lucy Morrison uses the small studio space well, a deep thrust gives enough of a hint of their domesticity whilst giving them plenty of space to move.
Female friendship is such a fickle, flightly thing so difficult to get right, and Battye nails both its positives and negatives. She doesn’t romanticise it, but she also doesn’t lean too much into stereotypes for the sake of creating conflict. It’s an engaging and reflective story that’s well-played.