The great achievement of this play is its ability to move effortlessly between epic and intimate styles of storytelling
This play was inspired by George Saunders' short story The Semplica Girl Diaries and is presented in collaboration with Olivier-award winning playwright Bola Agbaje. Unlike the short story, which is told from the point of view of a suburban middle class man, this version places the four women at its centre. These women hang in the garden and are “hard-wired” – connected by a thin wire burrowed through their brains. There are many burningly topical themes at play here. We’re talking about migration, the West’s relationship with the Developing World, sexism, xenophobia, borders, workers’ rights, classism and more. Such a litany of themes might make the play feel “preachy” were it not for the grace and talent of its performers. Gaël Le Cornec gives a touching performance of a young woman in the immediate throws of grief while Eva Mørkeset offers a delicately measured and beautifully realized portrait of a woman trapped in an impossible situation. The actors are supported by a gentle and lyrical score by Susi Evans, who plays live. The set consists of four gigantic white dresses on raised platforms which are occupied at various intervals by the actors. The theatrical possibilities of this unique (and visually stunning) concept are fully explored under the capable direction of Ben Samuels.
The great achievement of this play is its ability to move effortlessly between epic and intimate styles of storytelling. My only caveat would be that it feels slightly too long. Perhaps with some skilled dramaturgy the company might yet be able to shave a few minutes off its 80-minute runtime. What resonates most as you leave the theatre is just how believable this seemingly outlandish story really is. In a world of alternative facts, it is all too easy to imagine four vulnerable women hanging from trees for our pleasure.