Review: Eggs at Tristan Bates Theatre

Florence Keith-Roach’s two-hander Eggs is a story of two very different women, known only as Girl One and Girl Two. They’ve been friends for years, but lately it’s been becoming harder for them – and even more so for the audience – to understand why. Girl One (Emily Curtis) is a struggling artist: always skint, often depressed and never afraid to talk loudly about sex toys in public places. Meanwhile Girl Two (Lauren-Nicole Mayes) has a steady job and an (almost) steady boyfriend – all of which has led her to the conclusion that it must be time to start having babies.

As they approach their 30s, the two friends appear to be heading off in very different directions, and more than once during the hour-long play it seems like they must this time have reached an insurmountable fork in the road. All that seems to unite them is a shared love of 90s pop classics (the B*Witched dance routine at an ill-advised student night is a real highlight) and the grief they both feel – but never quite talk about – over the death of their friend Rose at some unspecified moment in their shared past. So wrapped up in their own dramas that they’ve become incapable of actually listening to each other, they’re both entirely focused on trying to live up to what they think society expects of them – whether or not playing that role will actually make them happy. And yet, as frustrating and superficial as their relationship appears to be, when both women find themselves at crisis point, they still turn to each other.

Eggs at Tristan Bates Theatre

Given the play’s title, it’s no surprise that a recurring egg motif is worked in seamlessly throughout in different ways, from chocolate eggs to love eggs; it’s even reflected in the shape of the narrative, which loops back on itself at the end to conclude where it began an hour earlier. It’s most obviously referenced, however, in the characters’ views on motherhood. While Girl Two talks romantically about fulfilling her purpose by having kids without really thinking through the implications, Girl One appears to be horrified by the prospect – although her repeated, a propos of nothing reminders that she’s “a child of IVF” suggest her aversion may have as much to do with fear of failure as with anything else.

Despite several scene changes – all of which require a new costume for both cast members – director Chantell Walker keeps the action moving along smoothly, with a bit of help from an epic 90s playlist featuring the likes of Cher, Alanis Morissette and Planet Perfecto. Emily Curtis and Lauren-Nicole Mayes give great performances as the unlikely pair; they bounce off each other really well, and the fraught friendship between the two of them is completely believable in both its highs and its lows.

Eggs is the first production from all-female company Wake Up Theatre, whose aim is to “produce platforms that give women a new voice”. This play certainly ticks that box. It’s a witty and heartwarming story of female friendship that doesn’t try and romanticise; the characters are believably lost and flawed and at times incredibly difficult to root for – but they’re also not alone, and there’s something very empowering about the realisation that when it really counts they’re able to be there for each other. This is a really promising debut that’s definitely worth a visit during its short London run.

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