Written by Elinor Cook and directed by James Grieve, Out Of Love explores the complexity and importance of female friendships. Jumping back and forth in time, we follow life-long friends Lorna (Sally Meesham) and Grace (Katie Elin-Salt). It’s an unsentimental account that shows how an intense ‘friendship’ can be a double-edged sword.
From the word go, we see differences between their personalities and the way other people treat them. Even at the pre-pubescent stage when boys and girls don’t generally mingle, the boys prefer playing the ‘wedding’ game with Lorna instead of Grace. And even though there isn’t any official ‘rivalry’ between them, Grace feels she’s competing with Lorna for male attention, something that takes up much of her thoughts.
Lorna, on the other hand, has other things on her mind. An absent father, who pays the occasional visit, she’s initially scornful of his attempts to bond, but regrets burning the bridges between them. She also doesn’t enjoy a particularly close relationship with her stepfather Christopher, but his love of books complements her own and her academic pursuits. Christopher, however, recognises the intensity of the girls’ relationship and thinks it will be unhealthy for Lorna if it continues in perpetuity.
What he doesn’t see though is the frankness and spirit of honesty they share – candid to a fault perhaps, but free to say anything that’s on their mind. Their friendship, however, is put to the test when Grace falls pregnant just before she’s due go to university. From that point onwards, Grace feels that she’s just an observer in Lorna’s life, which engenders bitterness. Will they ever be as close as they once were? Is it realistic to expect any relationship to last that doesn’t allow for the changes that life brings?
What Cook’s play does well is show how the ‘external’ considerations such as parents, children (or lack of) and education all factor in the tensions within friendships over the years and what it is exactly that contributes to their friendship’s longevity.
GRACE: Do you think that people maybe don’t understand what it can be like?
Between two women.
© Michael Davis 2018
Out Of Love runs in repertoire at Orange Tree Theatre, along with two other productions co-produced by Paines Plough. For dates when it runs, check: https://www.orangetreetheatre.co.uk/whats-on/out-of-love