Miriam Battye’s London Royal Court debut is a springy, if wobbly, exploration of contemporary womanhood.
In an effort to extricate themselves from “normative” expectations of young women to find a man and settle down, Lou and Tosh decide to forgo “the narrative” – Lou by having lots of no-strings sex; Tosh by, well, not so much.
There is a lovely tactility to Lucy Morrison’s production and Delphine Gaborit’s movement. Cocooned in Naomi Dawson’s downy-carpeted, pastel-blue set (which eventually becomes a fuzzy amphitheatre), Lou and Tosh sprawl out, collapse in on themselves, and give hugs that seem as if they’re trying to tessellate. There are moments of acutely observed physicality – separated by a door during an argument, Lou silently screams and bites down on the top of her laptop.
Battye’s text is a soup of half-thoughts and scalpel-sharp observations (“She is currently loved by a jar of pesto,” Tosh says of their engaged friend), bringing a discordant musicality to this co-dependent relationship. Tanya Reynolds and Rebekah Murrell have an irresistible chemistry – simpatico at first, and then increasingly corrosive – not even their buoyant, sacred friendship is free from the creep of patriarchal power.
But the play never fully coalesces. The winding of the first two-thirds is undercut by a final third that whips back and forth in a series of rapid plot developments that aren’t given sufficient room to breathe.
There’s a maddening wonkiness to Scenes With Girls. Then again, maybe that’s symptomatic of how it feels to be a young woman.