Thursday, 6 February 2014

Review: Flushed

The second play from Maddy Bell, Flushed is a roaring delight and if this is even a glimmer of her capabilities, I can't wait to see what she offers up next.

Trapped at the funeral of their grandmother, held at their old school, cousins Ronnie and Steph are dreading the fact that they have to perform and then mingle with the family, and be nice into the bargain. As a result, they've barricaded themselves in the Ladies Loo and need extricating with tact, blackmail or family obligation, or a healthy dose of all three. Sheltering in the toilets, the girls spend their time reminiscing about their childhood together, comparing family gossip and musing over their own desires and secrets.

Unlike Bell's previous play, Hello Boys, I am pleased to report that the characters in Flushed do not feel to be mere stereotypes portraying the black and white of the dating scene, but display a chemistry and understanding that makes it believable that Steph and Ronnie are the very best of cousins and well aware of each's potential to get them both in and/or out of a number of hilarious predicaments. For anyone who has grown up with a close childhood friend, be they sibling, cousin, school friend or neighbour, Flushed captures beautifully the nostalgia of one's own childhood memories and the pain in realising that you may be drifting apart, each absorbed in your own life. Both girls hole up in the bathroom, remembering with mortification (and amusement) past misdemeanors, and share with the audience their crippling doubts and the heavy burden of trying to live up to the family's expectations.

This is a far more 'feminist' piece than Bell's previous play, but as one audience member was overheard to say, it is only viewed as feminist because it is a play written by a woman, about women, acted out by women. That does not mean though that it does not delve into issues we are all prone to feel, regardless of our sex, gender, age or ethnicity, or tell stories in which men are not equally a part. It is just that on this occasion, these stories are being told purely from a female view point. Flushed is a homage to the fairer sex and the undeniable way grandmothers delight in everything their grandchildren do, all the while retaining the ability to shock this modern generation.

Be warned, this is not a play full of potty jokes. This is a play about what women get up to when they disappear to the Ladies Loo (and feel no inclination to come out).

You may never view the Ladies Loo in quite the same way again.

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