On a bare stage at Pleasance Upstairs, Bobby & Amy promises storytelling in its purest form. Emily Jenkins’ new play delivers this and more, in a playful and technically skilled production from an all-female creative team.
A playful and technically skilled production from an all-female creative team.
Jenkins blends lyrical narration with dialogue in this poetic two-hander, to portray Bobby and Amy’s unlikely friendship growing up in a rural Cotswold town. Even when subjected to the cruelty of school bullies and self-absorbed parents, they find themselves unknowingly on the brink a fledgling romance. Their coming-of-age tale takes a dark turn, however, when the sudden onset of foot-and-mouth disease threatens to destabilise the foundations of their rural existence.
Such a story is in safe hands with Kimberly Jarvis and Will Howard, who give equally accomplished performances as Amy and Bobby respectively. Howard’s assured characterisation of the shy, awkward Bobby is particularly endearing, while Jarvis gives a moving portrayal of Amy as a young girl still coming to terms with the death of her father. The pair switch easily between the intensity of the relationship between their title characters, and an entertaining array of local residents who make up the fabric of their town. The astoundingly quick transitions between characters are a joy to behold, never coming at the expense of the story’s clarity or pace. Scenes incorporating the Tamagotchi wielding, bullying ‘goat girls’ are a masterclass in comic timing, as Jarvis and Howard slip seamlessly between characters.
The production’s simplicity and honest style flatters Jenkins’ writing, and it is a pleasure to see an intrinsically rural story put onstage with such care. Although billed as a dark comedy, I would hesitate to reduce it to such a term; the devastation of foot-and-mouth disease offers a vehicle for a wonderfully nuanced exploration of change, loss and grief. Bobby & Amy foregrounds the endurance of friendship in a world we cannot always control.