Netherbow Theatre, Storytelling Centre
Mon 14, Tues 15th
‘At a Stretch’, directed by Caitlin Skinner of The Village Pub Theatre and Lung Ha is a powerful piece of visual theatre incorporating dance and clowning to tell the story of two women who meet and fall in love. Melanie Jordan, who wrote and also stars in the show sums it up as a ‘Lesbian love story for six-year olds’.
The play opens with the two girls navigating city life on their own, going through their morning routine, working in their respective jobs and getting on with their separate lives. One fateful rainy day, they meet, whilst sheltering from the downpour. The initial meeting scenes are sheer comedy and had the entire audience belly-laughing. Both Emma and Melanie convey so much with facial expressions alone, they are a joy to watch.
Although it tells the story of two girls who meet and fall in love, it is not a fairytale. It follows the ups and downs that anyone can relate to in a relationship. The beginning is magical, they laugh and dance together, the stage lighting up where their feet land. One of my favourite scenes takes place in a night club, where they are dancing with their ‘boyfriends’. The ‘boyfriends’ are actually shirts suspended from a wire. Much of the comedy is Chaplin-esque in quality which isn’t usually my bag, but I was helpless with laughter like the audience around me.
There are fall-outs and misunderstandings where the elastic bands representing the things that bind them are twanged violently, with lots of stomping and huffing and sighing. One argument escalates and Emma makes a dramatic exit, disappearing off-stage entirely. The elastic ties that they so carefully bound together, come loose; their love, everything they built together literally unravels.
Just when it seems that their break-up is final, and every last piece of elastic is removed from the stage, Emma pops up again and much to my relief, they reconcile.
At A Stretch only runs for two more days so get along to see this pioneering treat of LGBT theatre, whether you have children or not.