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Out of Love review at Roundabout at Summerhall, Edinburgh – ‘funny and tender’

Sally Messhum and Katie Elin-Salt in Out of Love. Photo: Jonathan Keenan Sally Messhum and Katie Elin-Salt in Out of Love. Photo: Jonathan Keenan

Elinor Cook’s new play Out of Love is a celebration of female friendship. A close friendship can be as rich and hot and nurturing as a romantic bond and yet we don’t always afford them the same space and value in the stories we tell. Cook’s play is a corrective.

Lorna and Grace have been friends since they were kids. They teach each other how to kiss. They learn about men together. They learn how to be women. Life takes them in different directions and things come between them, but their friendship remains a constant.

Cook deftly sketches in the differences between them in terms of class and family background. She also writes intelligently about their differing relationships with their bodies. Grace adores sex. Lorna is more ambivalent, but she is never without a boyfriend and has never really been single since the age of 13.

James Grieve’s warm and engaging production handles the play’s time hopping structure effectively and makes great use of the intimacy of the Roundabout space. There are strong performances from Sally Messham as Lorna and particularly Katie Elin-Salt as the complicated, clamorous Grace. Hasan Dixon impressively conveys all the men in their lives: their brothers, fathers, boyfriends – and one spectacularly obnoxious boss.

It’s a tender, well-crafted piece of writing, particularly refreshing in the way it talks about the pleasures of sex. Some of the emotional beats later in the play don’t quite land, but it beautifully captures the fire and glory of close friendship.

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Funny, tender and well-crafted celebration of the richness of female friendship