Take three girls….

Scenes with Girls, Royal Court Theatre

Scenes With Girls is what it says on the tin – but then, so much more. Twenty-two fast-paced scenes, with three girls. Lou (Rebekah Murrell), Tosh (Tanya Reynolds) and their sometime friend, Fran (Letty Thomas) come alive in this pacey 3-hander, which doesn’t disappoint in its clever exploration of friendship, love, sex and the complexities of womanhood.

A large pastel blue carpet and wooden framed toilet at the rear, greet us. Set in the round, we are instantly invited into the walls of this female flat share. Lou and Tosh lounge around and converse about boys, sex and life. Determined to break free of the ‘narrative’, and subvert the ‘normative’, it is immediately clear that these 24 year-olds are smart, educated young women, trying to carve out a place for themselves in a world that is all too ready to define them.

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Soon, however, we notice that something isn’t quite right with the two friends. Despite their shared contempt for former flatmate and ‘friend’ Fran – who has succumbed to the ‘narrative’ and gotten engaged – Tosh and Lou, don’t seem to have much in common at all. Lou has sex all the time (despite, troublingly, not seeming to enjoy any of it) and Tosh doesn’t have any sex; Lou talks about all of this sex all the time, meanwhile Tosh would rather discuss, well, anything else: “I just feel like my head is full of willy!” she finally exclaims.

The tensions between the flatmates grow, eventually reach boiling point. In a fraught emotional exchange, where Lou accuses Tosh being in love with her, there is a surprise turn of events when they both decide to reject the patriarchal narrative altogether – and embark on a romantic relationship together.

But that doesn’t work either. And the characters are all resigned to endure heartbreak and the painful self-reflection that comes with it.

Mariam Battye’s play is gripping from start to finish. Consistently entertaining, clever, witty and relatable, with stand-out performances by all, Scenes With Girls is an important addition to the narrative around womanhood today.

Battye validates female experiences; highlights important issues that young women face today and raises crucial questions – without, perhaps refreshingly, not even pretending to have all of the answers.

Scenes With Girls is on at the Royal Court until Saturday February 22 https://royalcourttheatre.com/whats-on/

Sophia Leonie

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