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Review of OUTGROWN at Etcetera Theatre

OutgrownOutgrown tells the story of Lizzie and Beth, childhood BFF’s who are now in their mid-twenties and wondering what they have in common and who they might have been if they’d never met.

The characters are fairly standard, there’s snobby, sensible and sorted Lizzie and her flaky, hippie travelling friend Beth. The initial conversations about love and commitment did have me worried – was this going to be another play that clankingly fails the Bechdel Test? But both Lucy Hagan-Walker (Beth/Cassie) and Paige Wilson (Lizzie/Alex) are so good in their roles that once the play got underway there was much more fun to be had.

Hagan-Walker has excellent comic timing and an engaging vulnerability that makes her very watchable and Wilson excels in the far harder role of straight, judgemental friend – and the pair of them conjure a chemistry of sorts between these two very different women – who do seem to have outgrown each other.

It’s a play about jealousy in many ways, Cassie is jealous when she is ousted as best friend in favour of Beth. Lizzie possibly harbours more jealousy of Beth than she knows, and it’s hard to know what Beth wants – she’s all over the place, in that believable messed up mid-twenties way that many women will relate to.

It’s enjoyable theatre and some of the writing is nicely observed and at times very funny, at others thoughtful – and there’s lots of ideas going on, in fact sometimes too many ideas, it would have been nice for a scene to continue occasionally, rather than slip into music or flashback or theatrical conventions.

There were some parts that confused me. If Lizzie has been with Jamie for nine years then does that mean they have been together since she was 16? If so, then wouldn’t Beth know him pretty well? And are the women packing up from a flat share that they have together or are the props all metaphorical?

The set is simple but effective, the flowers in the wall and the fairy lights are a nice touch, but the ‘speedy’ scene changes get wearing after a while – perhaps something simpler than putting on a dress would work more smoothly? Although the back story gradually makes sense, it still doesn’t answer the question of why the women are friends now. Their conversations sometimes seem like those of strangers – so how close are they? The contemporary storyline with Lizzie, Jamie and her boss could be fleshed out. Is Lizzie really that pragmatic or does she too doubt that she deserves better than to settle? Why has it taken her so long to reveal the big secret, and what does Beth get out of the friendship – she’s fun, adventurous and outgoing – what’s Lizzie’s hold on her?

There are some lovely moments, with great dialogue and both Hagan-Walker and Wilson work hard at giving fully rounded performances. Mind Your Head have created an inventive piece of theatre that will ring true to many BFF’s past their sell by date.

3 Star Review

Review by Roz Wylie

Mind Your Head explore the endurance of friendship and the pressure of growing up in this brand new two-hander play. Lizzie and Beth are childhood friends whose lives have taken them in very different directions. They used to be exactly the same; now they find it hard to see eye to eye. But do they really have as little in common as they think?

Mind Your Head is a new theatre company, creating work that will inspire thought in its audiences.
Created by Mind Your Head
Directed by Jessica Daniels
Performed by Lucy Hagan-Walker and Paige Wilson
http://www.etceteratheatre.com/

29th April 2015

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