Katherine O’Reilly’s first play, Screwed, details the hedonism and monotony of 30 somethings Luce and Charlene.By day they work at a metal factory, by night they take on
the town and get trashed together.
The dialogue is punchy, seamless and portrays the closeness of the two girls. Many of their conversations, to some degree, are reminiscent of
the ones we’ve all had with our own mates. Their friendship is endearing and you smile watching them, even though their reality is somewhat bleak. You begin to see their friendship deteriorate as the action continues.
The brash and confident Luce (Eloise Joseph) hurls hurtful insults at the insecure Charlene (Samantha Robinson), whilst Charlene struggles to find what she really wants from life. The signs of a toxic friendship continue to surface and get stronger. The play goes from something fun and amusing to watch to quite a sad affair as you witness the breakdown of a friendship.
O’Reilly has beautifully constructed the characters, with each of them possessing a personal struggle. You witness Charlene try to discover what she wants from life, Paulo- her love interest similarly wants more from life and has plans to move to Russia to escape the monotony of lie at the metal factory. Luce has a troubled relationship with her loving,
transgender father, Doris (Derek Elroy), who has transitioned from male to female.
However, it is not explicitly stated that Doris’s transition is the sole cause of the rift in their relationship, which I think was a good choice on Katherine’s part as there are often many reasons for problematic father daughter relationships. Although you see that it is a factor given the transphobic comments that Luce often hurls at Doris. I also thought it was nice to have a trans character integrated into the story line, but also not have that fact as the solem issue or cause for his daughters troubles.
What’s missing in the play is a bit more backstory to Luce and Charlene’s friendship, to Luce’s problematic relationship with her transgender father, and where Charlenes insecurity and violent outbursts stem from. As an audience member you feel for the girls and the fact that they can’t control their behaviour, however it is not overly sympathetic and it is left open as to whether Luce manages to accept her father for who he is, or whether Charlene decides to make a change and find out what she really wants from life.
The performances are strong all round. Eloise Joseph (Luce) and Samantha Robinson (Charlene) are believable as best friends and portray that kind of closeness well. They also
portray the different stages of drunkenness down to a T from jovial tipsy to the sort of drunk you’d rather forget reaching. Stephen Myott-Meadows (Paulo) is endearing as the idealistic Paulo and has great chemistry with love interest Charlene. Derek Elroy (Doris) is
centred and calm as Doris and has a stage presence reminiscent of a deity. Doris and Paulo
complement Luce and Charlene well and are a welcome antidote to their wildness.
The minimalist set by Catherine Morgan works well with a play that is driven by it’s interesting characters. It is a practical set that is quickly transformed from a metal factory,
to a club, to a kebab shop with the tweaking of just a few details. It also complements the dynamic performances, as the space has varying levels of staging with podiums and such,
meaning the actors can move about freely. I left the play thinking about where the line is between youthful folly and pure self- destructiveness, how your behaviour doesn’t only affect you and can hurt others around you. Luce and Charlene are hurting their livers and the emotional health of those around them. It also says something about the millennial generation- young people born after 1982, but before the year 2000. Milennials are often accused of being endless teenagers, more concerned with trivial things like how many follower they have on Instagram and selfies.
However, considering the economic climate, the fact that jobs are scarce, the competition is stiff, and housing costs through the roof. You can see how Luce and Charlene remain stuck, stagnant, unable to get out of their situation in such a forgiving world. How can you not be tempted to forget your life plan and go mental. This is definitely a play to catch a viewing of when you can.
Running until 23rd July
Writer and Producer – Kathryn O’Reilly
Director – Sarah Meadows