Theatre in Wales

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“Katie Elin-Salt excels...”

Steve Stratford at “Out of Love”

Theatr Clwyd/Paines Plough/ Orange Tree , Theatr Clwyd , July-28-17
Steve Stratford at “Out of Love” by Theatr Clwyd/Paines Plough/ Orange Tree One of the pleasures of being a witness to performance of Wales is seeing gifted talents at the beginning of their careers. Amy Morgan and Matthew Aubrey were first noted on this site and are wowing audiences at the Soho this season.

Katie Elin-Salt was first seen at RWCMD in “Hello Again” in February 2010. Since then she has been reviewed regularly. The reviews noted her energising productions where frankly lugubrious scripts needed energising.

“Out of Love” is a tripartite production that heads for Edinburgh and London. Steve Stratford was in Mold 20th July. This is an excerpt of what he saw.

“What is it, that "fire between women", as playwright Elinor Cook calls it? Not even the main characters in this thoughtful play can admit to defining that special and particular relationship that women have. One might say that friendship is merely a ceasefire between women, but that's too harsh, too simple a definition. It's much more complex than that.

Cook's Out of Love examines the friendship between two women over the course of a couple of decades. They grow up together, as close friends, but inevitably drift apart as their adult lives begin to develop and divert. On the one hand we have the sensible yet sensitive Lorna, all thick blonde curls and brave faces, while on the other we have the more outgoing Grace, a bundle of energy and ideas lacking a driving focus. We see these two girls at different stages of their lives together, as children, as teenagers, and as grown adults, and the story is both tragic and heart-warming.

As with Cook's 2016 play “Pilgrims” we see Lorna and Grace's story out of order, a series of time-jumping scenes which make up a grand whole, but are witnessed in pocketed moments. This enables us to see why one thing may happen a certain way, and also how others come about. It also adds extra depth and power to some scenes which come across as more tragic in the light of what we have already seen. We're shown Lorna and Grace as innocent young girls, chatting about stuff and nonsense like a pair of naive Alice in Wonderlands; we're shown their first conversation about sex and sexuality as their adolescent selves begin to emerge, and thoughts of boys and touching begin to take hold.

And so when we see them in their late teens have a stand-up row - when Grace breaks some devastating news to Lorna and changes the course of their lives forever - it hurts that bit more. We know these girls love each other, they get on well, they understand each other. And now they're hurling insults and painful truths at one another with the bile and spite of sworn enemies. That smarts.

It's all so truthful though. We all hurt the ones we love, because we can. We can say anything to those closest to us because we know they'll still be there for us at the end of it. That deep connection between two human beings which can be so hard to find. Soul mates.

What I found interesting about Out of Love is that it deals with a world I'm not privy to. As a man, I felt like I was looking in on Lorna and Grace's relationship from outside, whereas I imagine many of the women in the audience were relating to events much more, recognising themselves in Lorna and Grace. That's not to say I couldn't relate to the story myself. Men have their special relationships with one another too, but the nature of male friendship is terrifically different to that of female friendship. However, Cook taps into the contradictions so well that audiences of any gender can recognise them. And performed in Paines Plough's intimate mobile Roundabout Theatre, you feel much closer to the emotional story on the stage (despite the cold metal ice lolly backs to the seats!).

Grace seeks attention, love and confidence. Lorna becomes the focal point of Grace's adoration, but also the font of her need for validation. Grace wants to be the prettiest, the cleverest, and seeks reassurances from both Lorna and, as she grows up, a wealth of male company. At one point Grace becomes the fly in the ointment, hanging around Lorna that bit too much, and perhaps holding her back. Lorna's stepfather recognises Grace's draining power on his stepdaughter, and eventually so too does Lorna in a horrifying scene where Grace manages to steal Lorna's boyfriend from her by basically flaunting herself before him. The psychology in this particular scene, and many others, is fascinating and very well-portrayed because it's a recognisable moment. We may not all have had a friend who vies for our attention that bit too much, but many of us know the feeling of someone coming between us and our desires, perhaps deliberately to upset us.”

Full review and credits on

http://stevestratfordreviews.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/out-of-love-theatr-clwyd-mold.html#more

Copyright: Steve Stratford

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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