Fémage à Trois, Vaults Theatre - Review

Founded by Gemma Harvey and Lou-Lou Mason, Loquitor Theatre (which translates as 'She speaks') are committed to increasing the level of representation of women in theatre. Their latest event Fémage à Trois consists of three female monologues that all have a very different story to tell. The first, I Don’t Care, (written by Charlotte O’Leary) examines a teenager who is the sole carer for a violent father who has dementia.

I did happen to see an earlier version of the play performed in September 2015 at Southwark Playhouse. In that rendition of the play, there was no indication that there should be any specificity regarding ethnicity of the character. However on this occasion, the carer has been given a name – Aamira (Cat Van Dort), her family of West Asian extraction and her backstory is slightly more fleshed out. As a 17-year-old-girl with no other family members or support network, Aamira is at her father's beck and call 24/7. Efforts to get help from her male G.P. are met with the minimum of interest and empathy, while the home help that eventually comes makes fleeting visits that are way too early – either afternoon or at the crack of dawn – to be of benefit. As a piece of writing, I Don't Care is exemplary, highlighting the failures within the status quo, with G.Ps, social services and home help each passing the buck onto others in the system.

If there was  something that would have helped with the performance (and the evening as a whole) it's the issue of audibility. With voices not always projected as well as they should and background sound effects/music played so loudly as to be intrusive, it was an uphill struggle to listen at times. However this is a minor gripe, one that can be easily remedied and I've every confidence this issue will be sorted by the time the show runs again.

Closure by Anna Jordan featured Gemma Harvey as Eve, a young woman meeting up with her ex. Much of the humor and its pathos stems from Jordan's well-observed observations. Harvey speaks to the audience as if we we were the ex in question. Apologising for her past actions, Eve goes through a condensed version of the stages of grieving, with showing denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance to varying degrees – all with a sprinkling of self-deprecating humour. By the time the denouement arrives, the conclusion is perhaps inevitable, but by this point we're too in deep to not care how Eve is feeling at this moment...

Fémage à Trois conclues with And, Breathe – performed by Meryl Griffiths. Sylvia – a mature woman and former star – grapples with dementia and loss through cancer, the tranquility of her surroundings offsetting the turbulent and stressful issues she faces.

All three monologues have much to commend and the format of women of different ages speaking about seldom-told experiences or points of view can be utilised indefinitely.

© Michael Davis 2016

Fémage à Trois at the Vaults Theatre on 29th and 30th May. It will also be performed at Hackney Showroom on 21st-22nd July, before performing again at The Space, Edinburgh on 22nd-27th August 2016.

 

Author's review: 
4