‘A WOMAN and ANOTHER WOMAN discuss autonomy, identity, and bad sex. You know how it is with girls…’ This is the premise that is plastered on Women You Know’s Instagram bio, and it is a good description at that. This play by Catherine Barrie and Stella Jopling, co-directed by Tilly Fisher and Lucy Kennedy takes us through the chaotic, contemplative, random, and extremely funny conversations of two friends who explore their relationships as women to everything around them. This is an ode to female friendship and all those shitty men out there for providing the butt of every joke. Starting with a hungover conversation about the night before, the two women discuss everything from dating and sex, to the male gaze, to deeply traumatic experiences, to hereditary diseases and motherhood. It’s worth noting that the play does explore some very sensitive topics, with trigger warnings for drugs, alcohol, sexual references, references to suicide, and strong language.
Coco Cottam, playing A WOMAN, and Sorcha Finan, playing ANOTHER WOMAN, give stellar performances that grasp the deep emotional complexity of their characters without losing their humour. Their transitions between topics for the most part feel natural, seamlessly exploring the pipeline between bad sex to profound philosophical musings like, ‘Why is the sea so fucking deep?’ With minimal props and a non-descript setting, the play is mostly carried on the back of these two actresses and their interaction with one another, as well as the brief but very entertaining performances of men they’ve encountered.
This doesn’t mean that the play doesn’t have excellent costumes, staging and lighting. In fact, as you walk into the theatre, A WOMAN is already seated on what I have interpreted as a garden chair, dressed in an Elvis t-shirt, blue-patterned cotton trousers and a blue silk nightgown. This chaotic-chic aesthetic perfectly fits her character as we later find out, and it is offset by the cool girl aesthetic of ANOTHER WOMAN.
The lighting, thanks to Olivia Cho, is another greatly executed aspect of the play, with different colours and intensities bringing into the foreground some of my favourite parts of the play: a hilarious tinder sketch and different memories of dating horror stories. The non-descript location, organized by the stage manager Tamara Di Marco, adds to these performances as the women are allowed to step back in time through their memories without a set location limiting them.
Overall, this play and its promotional campaign perfectly capture the essence of being in your twenties, riding the wave of funny horror stories and emotional turmoil that we know all too well. The poster designed by Ellie Moriuchi is truly a thing of beauty, with its hardcore Y2K aesthetic, and the Instagram account @womenyouknow_ox, run by marketing director Marianne Doherty and assistant marketing manager Rosie Steele, brought me immense joy through their chaotically immaculate vibes.
I laughed, I tried but failed to cry, and had an overall nice time spending my Wednesday evening listening to these two women. Was it earth-shattering? No, but I don’t think that it was trying to be. Celebrating instead the everyday and the people that make it special, these women voiced some of my deepest anxieties and ultimately left me with one of the best songs of all time playing over and over in my head. If you get anything from this review is to run, not walk, to watch the music video for Carly Simon’s 1972 song You’re so Vain.
Image Credit: Promotional poster by Ellie Moriuchi.