Review: Eggs / Grip, Tristan Bates Theatre

A contrasting pair of one-hour shows offer different experiences at the Tristan Bates Theatre, with ebullient two-hander Eggs and the striking ensemble-led Grip

“I’m not talking scientifically
I’m talking emotionally”

There’s all manner of different eggs in Florence Keith Roach’s Eggs, including some you wouldn’t necessarily talk to your mum about. Which is fine, since this is a play about female friendship and how it responds to crisis points. Girl 1 and Girl 2 were pals at uni but as they approach the end of their twenties on wildly divergent career paths, their friendship seems more a thing of a habit than something offering genuine comfort in times of need.

Over the course of a year or so, the pair agonise and antagonise over decisions about jobs, men, babies, armpit hair, Bewitched, an apparently unshakeable presence in each others lives even when Roach’s script doesn’t quite make you believe it despite committed and often funny work from Emily Curtis and Lauren-Nicole Mayes. Chantell Walker’s direction feels a little too bogged down in extraneous detail – the many scene changes are made laborious by endless costume changes and a distracting 90s soundtrack.

By contrast, Scott Howland’s Grip is more formally adventurous, an ensemble-led production which makes ferociously good use of movement and lighting to both tell its story and disrupt it. “Based on one version of a true story”, Grip cleverly probes away at the shortcomings of a legal system, and by extension a society, that struggles to truly deal with the truth of the problems it faces.    

It’s a powerful and inventive piece of theatre, directed by Harriet Taylor for Nothing To Perform, unafraid to be challenging not only in its subject matter – as it explores a multi-layered and deeply shattering response to trauma – but also in its form – as it questions the truth of what we know, what we think we know, even what we think – as it brings our pre-conceptions into the light by cleverly withholding information for just long enough.

Creating theatre that is determined to make an audience work is a bold move but it is one that pays off handsomely here, even just over this hour. Grip is thoughtfully compelling and, well, gripping as it judders and glitches to an end point that had me enthralled. I’ll be watching out for all concerned here, some promising futures abound. 

Running time: both shows run for an hour without interval
Photo credit (Grip) – Clara Euler
Eggs and Grip are booking at the Tristan Bates Theatre until 4th May

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