Saturday, September 30

Bright Lights City – Salford Arts Theatre

When two people meet in a seaside café at the end of a pier on a grueling wet afternoon it can go one of two ways; either sulkily sit out the storm in a sad soggy state or stop for a moment and absorb what is actually going on around you and even gain a new perspective on life, love and latte.

Laura Gender’s play introduces us to Woman (Marchia Brogan)– middle-aged, successful, demanding, rude, disappointed, angry, entitled and caught out in a storm. In the empty café in which she takes refuge she meets Waitress (Blue Blackburn) – sixteen years old, unambitious, open, funny, patient, tolerant, smart and ready to shut up shop for the day.

In the unfolding drama we see two women, seemingly from very different places, whose worlds collide and clash but who find a way to connection, resolution and common bond.

The characters are both written and performed well; Brogan immediately establishing that she is the customer and will always be right, Blackburn gently responding that she will be having none of it and this is her gaff and her rules. The connection and rapport between the actors is strong and engaging and sustained throughout the piece.

Their stories unfold. Two very different women with two very different views on life. Whilst their differences establish their story, their similarities emerge and win through. The comedy of the piece has a mature subtlety to it. They battle over the lack of oat milk latte, the ‘right’ to charge a mobile phone, the presence of gluten in a cake; they connect over the love and influence of their grandfathers, appreciation of Eric Morecambe, life, afterlife, youth, age, wisdom and donkeys.

Using a simple set of gingham covered café tables jeweled with plastic sauce bottles, the piece, whilst initially a little slow paced, found a good rhythm. Some of the dialogue is lost in the first 15 minutes as the background stormy seaside sound effects over dominated. Costumes are chosen well and the clash between the smart expensive linen clad Woman and the velour track suited Waitress is successful.

The nostalgic elements to this piece of theatre were the most successful. Perhaps because that is where the real connection between these two women emerges, but also because we as a onlookers can all relate to the nostalgia of the seaside, family holidays, happy times with now lost grandparents. The emergence of the Waitress’s grandfather (Peter Munroe) in the final five minutes is unexpected, enjoyable and provides that final connection and satisfying twist. All in all, we were left glad to have met them and hopeful for them both on their continuing journey, wherever that may or may not take them.

Reviewer: Lou Kershaw

Reviewed: 19th July 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.