‘Sunnymead Court’: a romcom paying fond tribute to London lockdown life
Time Out says
Defibrillator presents a bitesized queer romance for the social-distancing era
There are undoubtedly some extremely cringe lockdown-set dramas heading our way in the next couple of years. But Gemma Lawrence’s sweet socially distanced fringe play styles it out admirably: the events of this year are its backdrop, rather than its context.
Sunnymead Court is a fictional London estate. The eccentric Marie (played by Lawrence) lives in one tower: when we meet her she is having a sort of semi-pleasant existential crisis. A natural introvert, she has embraced self-isolation wholeheartedly, and now fantasises that she is just a brain, attached to the computer she works on.
By contrast, her neighbour from the tower across the way, Stella (Remmie Milner) is laidback, lairy and loving lockdown – she appears to be on furlough (a nice thing about Lawrence’s short play is she doesn’t feel the need to over-exposit), and has shacked up in her ailing mother’s flat.
Marie is a creature of habit: ‘Having a routine is the most daring thing you can do’, she declares. One of her more eccentric foibles is blaring out the same William Onyeabor song at the same time every morning. One day, Stella is walking past at this hour, just as the heavens open. Marie turns up the volume. Stella kicks off her shoes and dances. Their eyes meet.
It’s a tentative love story that wears its queerness lightly. At the same time, there’s probably something a bit more charming, a bit less stalkery about two mismatched women spending several months staring at each other on their balconies – which is what happens – than if it was a hetero pairing.
Still, a lightness of touch is the hallmark of James Hillier’s 45-minute production, which has a sweetly ramshackle DIY aesthetic: Lawrence often sits away from us, her face shown via live film (possibly manipulated by her keyboard), while sound cues are triggered by Milner pressing a big, um, glowing pad thingy.
‘Sunnymead Court’ is cute, but not saccharine, and comes less as a big sweeping statement romcom, more a fond tribute to the eccentricities of London towerblock living during our hopefully not-to-be-repeated summer just gone.