The first lesbian themed play at Above the Stag theatre is more subtle than such a label suggests. The Penetration Play originated in 2004, and its gender fluid trio are very current in our developing post-millennial society. For many young people, classifications are less relevant, whilst sexuality, love and frustration continue to confront us. So too in this production.
Not much happens for some time but the banter between Rain and Ash is crackling. Their friendship flashes bright in the detail of gesture and glance, bringing the script to life.
Tayla Kenyon bursts onstage as Rain. She is the naïve, self-critical realist dealing day to day with her unrequited love. Kenyon balances the passive aggressive flow with care.
Miriam O’Brien allows Ash to slowly recognise that theirs is more than a simple friendship. We appreciate that she is not so happy with her perfect new boyfriend despite her professed enthusiasm. O’Brien gives a delicate, complex characterisation. Both actors relish a totally credible relationship and a contrasting appreciation of Ash’s mother.
Janet Prince as Maggie fully deserves her round of applause at her exit. We’re with you! – because her eyes have opened to the stagnancy of her life. Maggie reflects the denial of an older generation. Life is comfortable so I should be content. How satisfying to see Prince slowly/quickly get drunk and start to question this and accept there is always time for a new start.
The play’s open ending is very effective in that I want to know what happened next to each character. They are urged to be honest in their relationships but we are offered no simple resolution. These are people who surround us every day, still facing similar challenges.