ETCETERA THEATRE, CAMDEN
This first full-length production from Mind Your Head theatre company examines the sea of troubles beneath a lifelong friendship.
The song is a favourite track for Lizzie and Beth, who were only six when it was released, and they promised faithfully to be best friends forever. But nearly 20 years on, is a shared history enough to prop up a strained relationship? Their lives are on such different trajectories that maintaining their old intimacy looks increasingly unlikely.
Outgrown is written and directed by Marni Appleton and Jessica Daniels, from a background of new writing workshops where sparks of ideas grow into full scale performances.
Their company, Mind Your Head, is based on collaborative theatre, and full credit is given to the performers for their contribution to the script’s development.
The episodic nature of the storytelling is punctuated by Patrick Jensen’s atmospheric lighting design, and the action flips back and forth between infant school, a terrifying teenage party and married boredom. It’s an effective device that keeps the two-hander flowing as the women flesh out the grievances of the past.
Lucy Hagan-Walker has created an intriguingly sharp but vulnerable character in Beth, the freewheeler who can’t quite remember how many lovers she’s had on her restless travels around the world. Her neediness quickly becomes poignant as her envy of her friend’s humdrum but clearly rather comfortable life seeps into the open.
And as sensible Lizzie, angel-faced Paige Wilson has her own secrets to hide behind a smoothly controlled persona.
Both are gifted and very watchable performers who’ve creating a naturalistic and highly charged account of a crumbling relationship, with some unexpected twists along the way – along with some very good laughs.
The choppy narrative isn’t entirely satisfying, with promising dialogue chopped off rather briskly at times, but playing the supporting characters – teenagers Cassie and Alex – both have a greater opportunity to expand their angst-laden stories.
Bearing in mind that this company was only formed in September 2014, they’ve covered a lot of ground in a very short time. This collaboration has resulted in a sharp, funny and tender look at a friendship that may not be entirely healthy but, unlike the Spice Girls, might just survive.
• Until 3rd May at the Etcetera Theatre, 9.30pm, except Sunday May 3rd at 8.30pm
Oxford Arms Pub, 265 Camden High Street, London NW1 7BU. 020 7482 4857