The Penetration Play review at Above the Stag, London – ‘a darkly comic lesbian love triangle’
Girl meets girl, but girl has already met boy. So, girl does what any sensible person would do and sets her sights on girl’s mum. Winter Miller’s The Penetration Play is the inaugural production in Above the Stag Theatre’s studio, and the first time the LGBT+ space has produced a piece that centres lesbian stories.
The result is a snappy, often very funny 50 minutes of theatre stretched out to an overly worthy hour and a half. Gene David Kirk’s direction is clunky and misses much of the humour in favour of melodrama.
There is also a complete absence of sexual tension in this love-triangle. Apparent seductress Rain (Tayla Kenyon) and her intended “recruit” matriarch Maggie (Janet Prince) share the sofa like two uncomfortable Londoners forced together on the night bus.
Rain and Ash’s (Miriam O’Brien) unspoken lust is communicated entirely through rather unpleasant play fighting. As Rain slaps her friend’s head yet again in impersonation of a typewriter, you can’t help thinking it’s no surprise that Ash doesn’t (as least initially) want to have sex with her.
Kenyon embodies Rain with the boisterous, puppy-like energy. “All women fall in love with me, what makes it so hard for you?” she implores Ash. Aside from the fact she keeps hitting her, it might be because she’s written like a 10-year-old boy trapped in a 26-year-old gay woman’s body.
For a play that claims to be an exploration of love, romantic, familial and in friendship, between women, there is little about its female characters that is not clichéd.
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