Reviewed by Tony Peters
A glance at playwright Maureen Chadwick’s television credits and one could be forgiven for expecting something here along the lines of the populist Waterloo Road and Footballers Wives that she has created for the small screen. So this drama comes as something of a revelation, at least from the nature of its plot if not for its ultimate execution.
Three women find themselves in a mysterious nightclub called The Gateways, which it turns out, is a kind of purgatory for lesbians — the three of them having all recently died.
They are Ollie (Amanda Boxer), Queenie (Polly Hemingway) and Shirley (Mia Mackie).
While Ollie is seemingly happy in her lesbian skin and content to be at this place in time as long as the booze keeps flowing, Queenie is appalled about her situation and is obviously as burdened by her sexuality in the afterlife as she was in the mortal world. Trapped in the middle of these two is Shirley, with whom Queenie had an affair some years earlier that ended when the pair were involved in a motorbike accident.
What follows is much arguing about being comfortable with who you are, which all comes to a head when the trio is asked to complete questionnaires in preparation for reincarnation. Given a choice would they again go for female and “homo”, female and hetero or why not male? Cue further agonising.
While the initial premise is intriguing, the play doesn’t really go anywhere and the arguments go round and round without making any new points. It doesn’t help that one feels little sympathy for the characters. Queenie is a hypocrite and Ollie, while initially amusing, becomes a boring drunk. Shirley is a more likeable character but the role at times felt underwritten.
The piece is given some much-needed atmosphere courtesy of Ed Lewis’ sound design, but it felt too long and the “be proud” arguments, while convincing, could have been made effectively in a much shorter running time.
Written by Maureen Chadwick
Directed by Simon Evans