by Ffion Jones.
Three Stars ***
The Old Red Lion Theatre To 16 July
413 St John Street, Islington, London EC1V 4NJ to 16 July 2016.
Tues – Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & Sun 3pm.
Runs 1hr 45 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 482 5120.
Review: William Russell 29 June.
A grim but hilarious tale of girls on the loose in Swansea
Shell is having a birthday. Things are not going well. The vodka has had a bad effect. Her motor mouth friend Tash is proving a nuisance; her boyfriend is absent yet again – their child lives with her mother – and her only consolation is the urn containing her grandmother’s ashes.
There is no denying that Ffion Jones, who also plays Shell to the manner born, can write. The play is loosely structured being a series of brief scenes in which the two women squabble, take drugs, Shell enjoys some rough sex with Robyn, a former school friend, whom she has picked up, and Tash, who cannot shut up, mistakes the ashes for her mate’s coke stash. But if shapeless, the language is powerful, if crude, and the characters clearly drawn.
This is the underbelly of society, girls whose idea of a good night out is going on the pull and getting drunk, and men who take advantage of them and move on. That it exists in parts of Swansea is undeniable because it exists in all cities.
The only thing wrong with the evening is that the women are very strident and their strong Welsh accents make following what they are talking about difficult. They are undeniably fighters, but also victims, especially Tash, beautifully done by an irrepressible Sophie Hughes, whose father would appear to be abusing her, although Shell with the man she cannot kick out because he never stays long enough is equally a victim.
It also means that while one knows Shell wants something better from life one has no clear idea what it is, although Robyn, the hunk she picked up, seems to offer some hope of something better from the men in her life.
It has been directed at top speed by Nilolai Ribinikov and the cast could not be bettered, Jones giving a laceratingly good performance as Shell.
But the play proves, while frequently very funny, really no laughing matter. Life should not be like this for anyone.
Shell: Ffion Jones.
Tash: Sophie Hughes.
Robyn: Oliver Morgan-Thomas.
Director: Nikolai Ribnikov.
Set & Costume Design: Lizzlie Leech.
Lighting Design: George Bach.
Sound Design: Andrew Reynolds.
Assistant Director: Rob Henderson.