Hailing originally from Australia, Ladies Stories Productions has recently showcased a double bill of plays at Matthew’s Yard in Croydon. Written by Laura and Amy Toledano and directed by Georgia Harris, Submit? and Us offer two very different experiences about young women and the choices they make.
Submit? is loosely based on the Toledano’s experiences when they first moved to London. The play itself revolves a round two Antipodeans: Sam (Amy Toledano) – an Australian who still receives regular messages from her ex and Ella (Courtney Hough) – a ‘Kiwi’ whose admirer (Tyrone Williams) ‘tries too hard’ for her liking, by writing her a love song after their night together.
Clockwise: Courtney Hough, Amy Toledano and Tyrone Williams
Sharing a flat and working in the same pub, the sort of men Sam and Ella encounter every day are often verbally or physically abusive (played by Tim Mylechreest) or act inappropriately. Small wonder a lot of their time is spent on phone apps, though Tinder etc have their fair share of ‘undesirables’. Through the messages on Sam’s phone which are projected on the back wall, we see how women have to contend with men who won’t leave them alone or feel the need to ‘expose’ themselves (blaming alcohol, other friends or any number of other weak excuses). Details of Ella and Sam’s sex lives also punctuate the play – very candid, but also very funny too.
If the first half of the evening centred on earthy subjects and the physical aspects of dating, then Us focuses on the emotional consequences of finding possibly ‘the One’ when least expected. ‘He’ (Alex Dowding) and ‘She’ (Amy Toledano) have both been long-term relationships, but after a few months of being single, have grown accustomed to the idea of never finding someone that meaningful again. Until now…
As demonstrated in Theatre Utopia’s Flashback that she co-wrote earlier this year, Amy has a way of making material universally relatable and in an understated way, draw out the moments of emotional importance. Alex and Amy’s relaxed chemistry suits the material, as we see them progress from the honeymoon period of their relationship to later talking frankly about everything. On the same wavelength about so many things, ‘She’ has an uncomfortable epiphany. Having a child was something she never previously desired, or factored into her plans. Yet here she is with someone who really wants children, but does ‘ticks’ all the other boxes for a happy relationship. Of course life has a way of intervening, leading to a potentially life-changing development whatever she chooses…
Any couple that has been through ‘the talk’ will recognise the issues and reactions raised in the play. While Submit? certainly reflects the lives of many in present day London, Us has a timeless, universal quality that is emotionally resonant.
© Michael Davis 2017
Submit? and Us ran at Matthew’s Yard, Croydon from 26th to 29th October.