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The Speed Twins

1/6
© Catherine Ashmore

'The Speed Twins'

2/6
© Catherine Ashmore

'The Speed Twins'

3/6
© Catherine Ashmore

'The Speed Twins'

4/6
© Catherine Ashmore

'The Speed Twins'

5/6
© Catherine Ashmore

'The Speed Twins'

6/6
© Catherine Ashmore

'The Speed Twins'

‘Dyke heaven’ is how a character in Maureen Chadwick’s new drama describes the place where she’s inexplicably ended up. But, as the play progresses, the setting – a version of Chelsea’s long-shut lesbian Gateways Club – proves less heaven and more spooky purgatory.

Queenie, Ollie and Shirley arrive at the nightclub having been put there by the ‘powers that be’ to face up to the truth of their sexuality.This is far from easy, especially as Queenie has vehemently denied she is a lesbian for over 50 years.

Chadwick – who is most well-known for her TV work as writer and producer of ‘Bad Girls’ – creates a premise that’s too far-fetched. Having unseen puppet-masters who preside over the three and push them into self-examination is an easy way of manipulating the action but feels disappointingly unreal.

Yet despite this, the show is a fond and droll exploration of identity and love. Most of the script’s sharper one-liners go to Amanda Boxer’s Ollie, whose slapstick performance is a lot of fun. She provides the balance to the other two painfully earnest characters.

Polly Hemingway does well as Queenie, considering. There’s not enough plausible build-up for her character to convincingly make a transition from hugely repressed to out and proud. But she drives the show along with a taut, spicy energy.

The play isn’t as urgent or as directly relevant to the present-day as Alexi Kaye Campbell’s ‘The Pride’ – which opened recently in London and covers similar territory. Nevertheless, Chadwick still brings out a sense of the terrible damage done to people who were made to believe that what they felt was wrong.

By Daisy Bowie-Sell

Average User Rating

4.3 / 5

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Jill Gardiner

Had such a fabulous time at The Speed Twins - the first half got loads of laughs, and the second half was really moving, I had tears in my eyes by the end. It is so great to see a play with three strong roles for older women - one of whom has regained her youthful appearance - which attracts such a mixed audience, and got gales of laughter from men as well as women, straight as well as gay. The Gateways Club detail is all spot on - from the make of the juke box to the sexy way they dance the Gateways Grind. There is plenty of action, lots of passion and some thought-provoking reflection on what we would opt for if reincarnation was compulsory, and we were presented with a choice about what sexuality and gender we would choose for ourselves in the next life. For those of us keen to see more varied roles for women in theatre productions, it is fantastic to have 'The Speed Twins', a fresh, hilarious and poignant story, added to the range of images we have of gay and bisexual women in our culture. It's great entertainment, and really well acted - don't miss it!

Lizzie G

A very honest and insightful exploration of the challenges and sorrows of life as a lesbian before the tide started turning and the decisions we make every day. A clever and witty script which has the audience alternating between laugh out loud pleasure to opensive and sad thoughtfulness. Big characters and great fun and a lovely dose of 60s music to bop along to in your seat.

Kate Harris

An intriguing story which is both funny, moving and clever. Like many good plays all becomes clear in the final few moments; the characters have come full circle. The writing is full of "wish I could remember that line" moments; so much so that I recommend that the script should be sold at the show. The actors stretch themselves physically and emotionally across all of life's great questions - and yet the acting never becomes laboured. My favourite moment is Queenie's last dance.... but go and see it - you'll love it.