Hatstand Production’s newest endeavour, Never the Same, is currently playing as part of the Bridewell Theatre’s Lunchbox season. This 50-minute show aims to give the busy workers of London the chance to step outside of their regular working lunch hour, where so many of us often remain chained to the desk, and lose ourselves in this story of childhood friendship. Writer Lowe-Myers plays Sarah, who unexpectedly arrives at her former best friend Liz’s (Robyn Cooper) home, 3 years after she is released from prison. As the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that the pair, despite not having seen each other for 7 years, share a dark history, fuelled by a special friendship that led Sarah to go to great lengths – including sending herself to prison – to preserve Liz’s future and protect her from emotional destruction.
Many of the elements of friendship – easy banter, closeness, and a deep, empathetic connection – were immediately recognisable in the writing and performance of the play, which is unsurprising given that Lowe-Myers and Cooper have actually been best friends since they were four. It is the lighter moments that were, in some ways, more convincing and moving than the slightly-too-earnest, overwrought displays of grief and panic that are to come. Nevertheless, both Lowe-Myers and Cooper give touching performances in their respective roles, amidst a wonderfully jumbled set scattered with childhood relics, designed by Michael Bettell.
Matt Costain directs, using his previous movement experience to include some intriguing touches of physical theatre and surrealism, which in some ways matched the intermittent whimsical episodes of text, where rather poetic descriptions sometimes punctuated the naturalism. These elements however, whilst brave and interesting, may run the risk of disengaging an audience that could perceive them as being somewhat contrived. That aside, on the whole Never the Same is a lovely, heart-warming story that challenges how far we ourselves might go to help and protect our own ‘best friend’, providing food for thought during what can often be an monotonous lunch hour in the city.
Review by Amy Stow
NEVER THE SAME
Written by Lily Lowe-Myers
Directed by Matt Costain
Presented by Hatstand Productions
After NICOLA, “a theatre performance that should not be missed” (MouthLondon) and CLEOPATRA’S KEY “comic and heartfelt” (LondonWeeklyNews). Hatstand Productions return to The Bridewell with their first non-musical play NEVER THE SAME.
After an event that’s kept them apart for seven years the last person Liz thought she’d see on her doorstep was Sarah. But Sarah has come to talk through the past and seek answers.
How far would you go to recapture what is lost? How far would you go to help your best friend?
Darkly comic, daring and moving, two women learn to what lengths they would go for each other.
27 Sept – 07 Oct @ 1pm. Tue – Fri