AMATEUR PREMIERE with ADDITIONAL FILMED PERFORMANCE STREAMED ONLINE JULY 17TH 2021
Each woman has their own song; each woman makes the most of their moment in the spotlight in a poignant yet often humorous play that kept me in mind of the soul-scarring work of the late Tennessee Williams. Only with more laughs. Barbara Goulden, www.elementarywhatson.com
Ruth Herd gives a powerful performance as Suzanne... She is tough, she is tender and when she is finally pushed to the edge to tell some truths of her own, she is magnificent. Nick Le Mesurier, Leamington Courier.
About the Play
See a digital programme for the production here.
3 Women is a funny and frank play by comedian and writer Katy Brand. The story places three generations of women from the same family in a hotel suite on the evening before a wedding. As the evening progresses and the champagne flows, their resentments old and new surface, alongside their family bonds and affections. The play considers their experiences as women of different generations in a funny and engaging way as the wedding approaches.
This was an amateur production by arrangement with Concord Theatricals.
In line with our EDI policy, we undertake an EDI impact assessment of all our artistic programming. '3 Women' by Katy Brand has a diversity message at its centre, including issues of gender identity. The playwright specifies that one character should be of mixed heritage and the story would be enhanced by looking for multi-ethnic and gender identity fluidity within casting.
Review by Nick Le Mesurier for The Leamington Courier
Weddings, being major turning points in most people’s lives, are traditionally occasions for stories. Significant events are recalled, old relationships cemented, new ones formed. All these things happen in Katy Brand’s 2018 play 3 Women, but not quite in the way they’re supposed to.
The three women in question are all members of the same family. They meet in a hotel room, paid for by the groom, on the night prior to Suzanne’s (Ruth Herd) wedding. It’s a bit of luxury to which Suzanne is not accustomed. With her are her acid-tongued mother Eleanor (Lilian McGrath) and her daughter Laurie (Chloe Hayward). As they get drunk they reminisce, and the family skeletons are let loose in full cry.
Katy Brand has a sharp eye for socially constructed character. Eleanor is the catalyst: she is a product of second wave feminism. Angry at the thought that her chances of a good career were ruined by motherhood and expectations of domesticity, she long ago took to drink in a big way. For much of the play she berates Suzanne for having wasted her chances in life by getting pregnant in a one-night stand with a man whom she never saw again. The product of this liaison is Chloe, a bright and self-consciously cool teenager with lots of received wisdom about gender fluidity and the potential for robotic parents to free women from motherhood in the future.
In the middle of these arguments, heavy in themselves but handled here with light and humour that makes them all the more telling, is Suzanne. All she wants is to get married, not because she is a ‘failure’ in the race for women’s autonomy but because she has seen and paid the price of independence and has at last found a man who, though he might be a bit boring, loves her and is willing to pay off her credit card debts. Such a position is bound to put her in the firing line from each of the generations beside her.
Ruth Herd gives a powerful performance as Suzanne. She conveys her pain, her hopes, and her love throughout the play with great dignity. This is an ‘ordinary’ woman who as a child had to put her drunken mother to bed and who later raised a child of her own single-handedly under a barrage of criticism from one who should have supported her. She is tough, she is tender and when she is finally pushed to the edge to tell some truths of her own, she is magnificent.
Lilian McGrath handles her part as Eleanor with some style. She comes to the scene dressed to kill in flaming red shoes and she burns with unsuppressed rage and frustration and self-pity. Not all women are born to be mothers and I for one could feel her sadness at her lost chances – though given her propensity for drink one wonders what she would have done had she had them.
Laurie has the difficult role of mediating between two warring relatives. Expectations on her are high, and she naturally manages them through the language of current sexual attitudes, outwardly claiming independence while still needing the support of her mum and grandma. Chloe Hayward plays her with an innocent / annoying charm that is convincing.
A fourth character has a pivotal role in this 21st century comedy of manners. Rufus, the head waiter, who provides room service and a little bit more, is played as a trans-gender character. Rufus and Chloe form a hurried and quite explicit sexual liaison under the eyes of the older generations, which seemed to me gratuitous, though Charlotte Rawson brings a freshness to what is essentially a wink-wink, nudge-nudge part.
The impact of this play will depend, I suspect, on one’s deepest beliefs about what women are and should be. Is the notion of motherhood something that is natural, or is it socially constructed? Do social attitudes towards sex and reproduction change over time, or are they fundamentally the same? The Criterion’s production pitches these questions nicely without necessarily providing the answers. Go see it and decide for yourself.
Review by Barbara Goulden for www.elementarywhatson.com
Sex - how desperately life-changing for an older generation; how virtually inconsequential to their "swipe right/swipe left" gender-fluid grandchildren.
Interestingly, in this new play by comedian Katy Brand, I don't think sex was the point....at least not to Suzanne, the mum-in-the-middle of the generation game, played with angry vulnerability by Ruth Herd.
It seems Ruth has always been a disappointment to her stylish, discontented mother Eleanor - loved the bright orange blouse and matching boots.
Eleanor, played by Lilian McGrath, believes Ruth threw away opportunities her age group never had and is now settling for a safe marriage at the age of 40.
Meanwhile there's nothing safe about the third generation of this dysfunctional family, Lauren, played by Chloe Hayward, who successfully merges bewilderment, disappointment and her desire for the head waiter (Charlotte Rawson) into a typical teenage mash-up with some eye-popping action.
Each woman has their own song; each woman makes the most of their moment in the spotlight in a poignant yet often humorous play that kept reminding me in mind of the soul-scarring work of the late Tennessee Williams. Only with more laughs.
These newcomers to The Criterion were all auditioned online and had to battle through lockdown to eventually reach rehearsals. You'd never guess that from their efforts on Saturday night.
Occasionally I felt the gaps between the lines were longer than necessary, but the power of the emotions were laid bare for all to see. Along with the champagne, chips, and hamburgers.
Congratulations to director Bill Butler, his cast, and the whole Criterion crew for successfully battling Covid to bring this play to the stage.