Attitudes towards relationships differ from person to person. However, does being the focus of the female gaze (as opposed to the male variety) make a difference to a woman’s love life? Are same sex relationships any less complicated with gauging the thoughts and feelings of your ‘intended’?
Written by Signe Ebbesen and directed by Natasha Biggs, Prisms examines the love lives of four young women who live in the same household. The play begins with the aftermath of ‘the night before’, when all the household make small talk with their bedtime ‘partners’. From just this ‘small’ scene, we get a flavour of the frisson between what’s said and what isn’t, what people want to hear and what we choose to say instead.
Instead of having conventional nomenclatures, the characters’ names are colours, indicative of the coloured clothes they are wearing. Elisabetha Gruener is ‘Purple’, Giulia Hallworth is ‘Blue’, Kira Hayes is ‘Green’ and Caitlin Lee Smith is ‘Red’. The first thing that comes to mind is do the colours symbolise different emotions or personality types?
Certainly we find that their notions of love are all very different, as well as the ‘significance’ of the previous night. At one end of the spectrum is ‘Blue’, who thinks her ‘partner’ and previous night was “sweet”, but nothing more. Then, at the other end of the spectrum, there’s ‘Red’, whose night of passion was so potent, she’s on ‘cloud nine’.
Interestingly, ‘Purple’ and ‘Green’ have traits in common with ‘Blue’ and ‘Red’ respectively, as well as each other. Both ‘Blue’ and ‘Purple’ have a similar ‘chilled’ attitude to ‘love’, sex and one night stands, but only for one of them it is the absolute truth…
In contrast, ‘Green’ and ‘Red’ place great value on relationships and finding ‘a significant other’, but their respective experiences and ‘strategies’ couldn’t be more different. While ‘Green’ is more circumspect about ‘developments’ and her own feelings on the matter, for ‘Red’ being in love is EVERYTHING – her raison d’etre. She also doesn’t let opportunities pass her by, often taking the initiative of bumping into men who interest her – though she has worked out what their reactions are going to be by the type of coffee they drink.
What brings everything to a head is the arrival of a ‘I love you’ note, leading to speculation about who it was intended for. How to resolve this: a consultation with Aphrodite and any feminine spiritual powers who will answer the summons of ‘Green’…
The note itself isn’t important in itself as its role in making the housemates candid with each other – though that doesn’t mean their words are sugar-coated in any way. By the play’s denouement, whatever conclusions one might have had about each of the characters are turned on their heads, as we realise nobody has all the answers or the ‘perfect love life’.
Prisms is very candid about the spectrum of feelings on dating and that even within a female group of friends, there aren’t necessarily universally-held opinions about matters of the heart. Even within one’s own firmly-held views of relationships, there are aspects that make ‘sense’ and give us ‘solace’, while there may be other facets that we’re reluctant to acknowledge publicly.
© Michael Davis 2022
Prisms ran at The Space Arts Centre from 18th to 22nd October and livestreamed on 19th October.