Jess and Joe Forever
- Lorna Irvine
- 6 August 2017
Wordy but occasionally fun drama about two childhood friends
Around a functional patch of earth, which doubles up as both children's play area and place of burial, posh gushy Jess (Nicola Coughlan) and rural misfit Joe (Rhys Isaac-Jones) have hung out together since they were little. Zoe Cooper's pair of young outsiders (Jess is small, a bit chubby and prone to kookiness; Joe's a lanky lad with a secret) are not what they seem, and as the years pass, the drip-feed of information, with frequent asides to the audience, provides clues to the true identity of Joe.
It's a likeable enough two-hander, but too verbose, all too reliant on the constant ping-pong of chitter-chat from the duo, which squeaks and buzzes like a radio. There is a lot of fun with the quirks of regional accents. However, a lot of Cooper's dialogue is a little prosaic, meditating on small town foibles like narrow-mindedness and a worrying fondness for livestock – even when the somewhat predictable twist occurs. The lapses in time are not always made as clear as they could be. But the young actors give impressive, high-octane performances, and there are some affecting moments to cherish, particularly when they eventually, using baby steps, navigate an awkward path to each other as romantic partners.
Traverse, until 27 Aug (not 14, 21), various times, £19.50 (£14.50).