Saturday, 29 February 2020

Grass review

We're all guilty of thinking the grass is always greener but we don't often get to find out for certain if this is true. In Yvonne Martin's new play, Grass, over a bottle of wine, two friends who haven't spent time together in over a year, finally put this to the test as they open up about children, family, careers and the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want.

This catch-up is interspersed with flashbacks showing the gradual deterioration of their friendship and while this gives performers Stephanie Daniel and Sarah Oldmeadow more to do with their characters, they don't add anything to the narrative as Lil and Aimee already express this in the present. We know why they drifted apart and how they blame the other for the rift in their friendship so seeing it act out provides no extra insights. Martin also allows an opportunity for the women to break out of the scene and share their inner thoughts with the audience. Her direction here is a little awkward as we wait for the other woman to leave the stage and would have been more effective if she had remained in the background as the monologue occurred.
 
Martin has focused on the relationship between these women and exploring how motherhood has defined them, in their own eyes, by each other and by society, but the stakes never rise. There is no turning point or surprising moments in their conversations and Daniel and Oldmeadow's performances end up too similar in terms of energy and presence. 

There's a few inconsistencies with the writing and despite not being huge oversights, they hinder the flow of the show and has us questioning everything we hear. When they meet, Lil makes it very clear that the wine at this bar is quite pricey and maybe Aimee would prefer to go somewhere else yet the lifestyle Lil lives insinuates that she is barely scraping by herself. In another moment, Lil tells Aimee that Aimee's husband hates her, yet we don't learn why or if Aimee's protestations that he doesn't are correct.

The relationships that women share come to the forefront in Grass, and even though it might not be the most riveting story, there's still enough food (or wine) for thought being shared that anyone - regardless of gender and what type of family they have - can relate to.

Grass was performed at The Butterfly Club between 24 - 27 February 2020.

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