"Explicit and energetic but unresolved"
by Rachel Knightley for remotegoat on 17/07/16

Screwed is the explicit and energetic debut by playwright Kathryn O’Reilly. The opening feel is of an updated Bouncers or Shakers Restirred, as we follow thirty-something best friends Luce and Charlene from their dead-end day jobs to their binge drinking nightlife, lived on repeat. A sleek, unfussy stretch of steel links upstage and downstage counter areas to form factory floor, rec room, club and kebab shop, creating versatile surfaces for dancing, drug-taking, coffee breaks and work space.

Director Sarah Meadows has grasped exactly the energy and dysfunctional affection that binds Luce (Eloise Joseph) and Samantha Robinson (Charlene). They are supported by Stephen Myott-Williams as Paolo, with whom their share a convincing familiarity and realism. Luce’s mother, ‘Doris’ (Derek Elroy), who was her biological father before finding the courage to become the person she really was, is a gentle presence matching the brash drive of the story with grace and dignity.

As the play goes on and the dialogue creeps towards naturalism, it grows rather heavy with “telling”. As moving as it is to hear Charlene’s wish that Doris were her mother because ‘you’d be the best mum in the world’, or Luce’s drunken confession to Doris that her behaviour is a response to missing their childhood closeness, we would feel these even more deeply were we shown more strongly and told more lightly. The physicality of drunkenness is exceptionally strong but stage space is often neglected, crushing many of the more sensitive duologues into the side walls. Full of elegant and professionally staged sound and fury, it is still not quite clear enough what O’Reilly has to say or offer on the subjects she claims. At ninety minutes, can still feel overlong as a result.

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