In their trilogy of one-act plays, Laura Lindow, Naomi Obeng and Vici Wreford-Sinnott take turns to contemplate the pain and the pleasure of love. Despite the time of year, there is nothing festive about their plays, co-directed by Bex Bowsher and Jack McNamara, but they do have a seasonally warming theme about community and reconciliation.
Lindow takes the brief literally. Her opening piece, The Start of Space, is about a heart surgeon. Dr Fiona McGill is played by Imogen Stubbs with an east-coast Scottish lilt and a sheen of brisk professional competence that belies her vulnerability. She is a medic who routinely holds hearts in her hands, the responsibility all the greater for her specialising in children. As she abandons her prepared lecture for a personal reflection, we see how a life-and-death day job contrasts with the strains of love and loss at home.
For Obeng, love turns into obsession. Her play, Fangirl, or the Justification of Limerence, is about a network of online fans whose fixation on their favourite pop star has a religious intensity. So much so they make their entrance in veils to the sound of a church organ (an excellent live score by Me Lost Me AKA Jayne Dent) and refer to their idol only as God. Laila Zaidi plays the most fervent of them with a teenage excitability, her distress and attitude of denial all the more profound when God turns out to be human.
In Wreford-Sinnott’s closing contribution, With the Love of Neither God nor State, Rebecca Glendenning-Laycock touchingly plays Greta Stone, a neurodiverse 21-year-old who finds the strength to ditch her habitual obedience and seek out the thing she needs the most: the love of a family. In a society closing social clubs and opening food banks, she craves the love of a community.
For all their intriguing premises and vivid exchanges, each play feels one draft away from completion. Lindow’s surgeon loses a son who is dramatically peripheral, Obeng fields all her best ideas early on and Wreford-Sinnott takes too long to introduce her central character. Their route to true love is meandering.
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