The newly formed Red Cart Theatre Company aims to specialise in theatre featuring strong stories for women. That’s all very well, but in this debut production, both women and men come off rather badly.
On the surface, the choice of Richard Cameron’s 1990 play makes sense. It’s a well-crafted, fluid script that follows the lives of three young women who live in the same town. Jodie is a troubled ten-year-old, Ruby is a young mother and Lynette is a newlywed. Their paths cross, imperceptivity at first, because of the actions of one man, Royce. He is a bully, an errant father and a wife beater and wrecks their lives in very different ways.
We hear each of their often distressing encounters with Royce through a series of monologues and eventually the women’s paths merge so that they all have an unexpected hand in Royce’s grizzly fate.
But Royce isn’t given a voice in the play and appears only in the women’s recollections. We’re not given an opportunity to understand why he’s such a mess and as a result, the denouement is undermined.
Jane Moriarty’s production doesn’t help. Ideally, this finale should be seen as a terrible but unavoidable moment the women have been cornered into. Instead it’s rushed and we feel as though what they’ve done is supposed to be a happy ending. But really you’re made to feel they haven’t made a strong decision to move forward with their lives, they’ve simply worked together to get away with something nasty.
It’s a pity; until the fudged ending, the production is wholly watchable and there are three strong performances from Laura Allen, Kelly McAuley and Bernice Pike.
But however convincing the women are in their struggle against this oppressive man, the show still leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
By Daisy Bowie-Sell