- Lorna Irvine
- 4 August 2019
Stef Smith drama shimmers with rage, desire and tenderness
Sometimes, the cracks in gloss paint are easy to see, but only if the viewer moves closer. Underneath the perfect glamorous smiles and slick retro uniforms of air stewardesses Toni (Amanda Wright) and Jane (Louise Ludgate) lies desperation, physical abuse and crumbling family units, and no amount of Pinot Grigio will wash it all away.
Playwright Stef Smith has created a pearl here: shining and incandescent, but with grit underneath it. A seemingly simple set by Kai Fischer, with sand on the ground and basic minimalist furniture, reveals more jagged lines as the story evolves into something more complex.
Bryony Shanahan directs the two like a bizarre karaoke duet between friends where the tempo keeps changing and words are improvised. Initially, the dialogue is brusque and staccato, but it turns into free jazz. Jane is longing to hold her family in her arms as she questions her life and work choices; Toni is left wondering why she tolerates a lover who could ultimately destroy her.
Wright and Ludgate are outstanding, vacillating between prim humour and grim horror, as they peel off the veneers of meaning in Smith's gorgeous, lyrical writing. Their imperious cat smiles slip into grimaces, both for lost youth and decisions which have potentially dodgy consequences.
Female friendship and the roles of women are dissected in a production that's impossible to second-guess but consistently hard to resist. It's savage, funny and heartbreaking, because it chases the truth that lurks in the shadows, confronting the secret selves that only we know.
Traverse Theatre, until 25 Aug, (not 12), times vary, £21 (£15.50).