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Scenes With Girls : A Review

Jenna Colaco reviews the Oxford's pinkest production

Scenes with Girls, written by Miriam Battye and produced by Love Song Productions, is a beautiful testament to friendship between women and the twists and turns of navigating the dating scene. Centered around the characters of Lou (Rosa Calcraft), a young woman who is sex-positive to the point of obsession, her best friend and roomate Tosh (Millie Deere)— the antithesis of Lou, mostly unwilling to entertain romantic relationships and habitually annoyed at the way that Lou does, and Fran (Cecily Brem)— the ‘cuffed’ one, whose relationship status isolates her from the core duo. 

As the audience comes into the auditorium of the Old Fire Station, Lou and Tosh are already in place on stage, scrolling on their phones and chatting, which creates the impression that we’ve just taken a seat in the characters’ living room. The set comprises a girly aesthetic reminiscent of a school sleepover, with pink spotlights, pink bean-bags and pink blankets taking centre-stage. The directorial decision to keep the 22-scene structure is aided by the use of  Lorde’s ‘Ribs’ to soundtrack the breaks between scenes, not only creating a feeling of continuity fluidity between the different scenes, but also playing on the song’s thematic focus on female friendship, with the lyric ‘you’re the only friend I need’ playing during every transition. This emphasizes the play’s thematic focus upon all aspects of friendship, growing more bittersweet throughout the course of the play, as discord ebbs and flows within the trio.

Calcraft’s portrayal of Lou as a bubbly friend who enjoys being at the centre of attention is effortless and enjoyable. Often seeming to address the audience for a reaction, she makes  #relatable comments about relationships, throughout the course of the play she turns us into another friend she is telling a story to.  Deere’s portrayal of Tosh is a great foil to the exuberance of Calcraft’s Lou. Full of childlike energy, Deere’s Tosh manifests her frustration over Lou’s sexual politics through physical outbursts. Deere plays the less outgoing friend very well – we see Tosh to be an opinionated, frustrating and emotionally intense character, even though she speaks less than Lou. Brem as Fran brings a meeker character to the stage that reinforces how special Lou and Tosh’s friendship is. Brem successfully infuses Fran with a nervous, awkward energy, which grates amid Lou and Tosh’s cozy back and forth, cleverly emphasising Fran’s place – in the peripheries of the friendship,  wonderfully conveying how it feels like to be the third wheel in a friendship.

It also feels worth mentioning the only male actor  – Tosh’s boyfriend on stage, the ‘Boy’, was a role cast via an Instagram poll as a cameo-style appearance from a pool of male actors from previous Love Song Productions’ shows. The one-line token character was a brilliant marketing tool and a clever way to engage the audience in casting for the play ; however, I feel the actual male presence on stage feels like an unnecessary addition that distracts from the focus on girls and their friendship in the play, especially given that all other partners of the characters are alluded to, not seen on stage. 

The play as a whole was beautiful to watch. It is funny, relatable and well-delivered. A very special mention must go to the beautiful projection of artwork to close the play, produced by Lizzy Nightingale. The image of flowers slowly growing and becoming bright and colourful is a testament to how friendships grow and develop, just as the ones we watched blossom on stage.

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