‘3Women’ review

Theatre, Drama
2 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

Stilted feminist comedy from TV comic Katy Brand

The fruity number/letter combo in the title might just be the most original thing about Katy Brand’s debut play, a trite comedy set on the eve of a wedding. She’s slapped three female characters in a hotel room, where they discuss contemporary womanhood with the thoroughness of the commissioning editor of a particularly woke women’s mag. Hookup culture, gender fluidity, reluctant motherhood and alcoholism it’s all there.

Grandma Eleanor got married young and sank her bitterness into a drinking problem and obsessive weight-watching. Her daughter Suzanne is a stereotypical member of the ‘Me’ generation, experimenting with esoteric philosophy and fixated on her childhood trauma. And her daughter Laurie is an idealistic, broadsheet-reader-baiting stereotype of Generation Z, who unleashes haphazard monologues on the joys of Tinder or the imminence of a post-gender utopia.

Brand’s text has moments of real wit and spark: like Laurie’s elaborate explanation of how future generations will breed using external wombs, demonstrated using a cradled wine cooler that’s incubating an olive in a wine glass. There are some careful observations of the subtle digs mothers aim at daughters, with Anita Dobson making a persuasively tart parent to Debbie Chazen’s ramshackle Suzanne. But other lines land with the clumsiness of a court shoe tearing the hem of a wedding dress, especially the blunt handling of Eleanor’s alcoholism, or Laurie’s befuddling announcement that she’s swiped right for someone on Instagram.

Director Michael Yale’s stilted production struggles to create a sense of warmth between these thinly drawn women (there’s a lot of unconvincing hair-stroking). Nor is there much of a sense of why these three people are drinking into the wee hours in a hotel room together, given that they don’t seem to particularly get on, or why they have chosen this of all nights to dredge through several decades of mother-daughter resentment.

Female-led theatre is in a really exciting place right now: form-smashing plays like ‘The Writer’ or ‘Anatomy of a Suicide’ have created new ways to talk about ideas of gender and generational differences. By comparison, ‘3Women’ feels like an unusually uneventful sitcom pilot squeezed into a theatre space, its humour reliant on confirming stereotypes, not confounding them.

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