From a cool, air-conditioned distance, the 3 Reasonable Women’s
This is a show that has a lot to contend with. It is smothered in allusions.
Initially the audience is introduced to Phoebe Taylor’s Biddy and Zachary Hunt’s first manifestation, Alfred; a catty couple happily bitching their way through a cup of coffee and a number of snappy cut scenes that lay the foundations for the lead’s fall from sanity.
As the musical interlude fades out, the scene shifts to a mental health ward. Surrounding new admission Biddy are the sympathetic Alex (Hunt) and the schizophrenic Neil (Leona Allen), to whom Alex acts as an emotionally jilted foil. Long-term residents of the ward, the pair offer an unconventional slant on mental illness that blossoms into a well coloured, human portrait as the play progresses.
Unlike (we suspect) her fellow patients, Biddy’s mental trauma is temporary. She acts as the centre of both the play and what may be the external manifestation of her own scatty inner dialogue. From the dotted references to Greek mythology to the haunting refrain of Blue Moon, something about the reality we’re presented doesn’t quite add up. It is an impressive feat of engaging acting on Taylor’s part that these bumps feel purposeful. It is an even more impressive feat that a character who initially appears objectionable, jumping around the stage and attempting to seduce Tom Roe’s Cosmos with a toddler-like disregard, ends the play firmly nestled in our affections. If the charismatic Roe and intriguing Scarlet Sheriff receive less than their fair mention, it is only because Taylor shines so brightly.
This is a show that has a lot to contend with. It is smothered in allusions. It offers a somewhat flippant view of depression and mental illness. It even has an Oasis singalong. But, with a prevailing warmth and mature touch, it scrubs away these theatrical misdemeanours and captures the audience with a real pace and physical ambition.