Three women. Three monologues. What could possibly go wrong? Well, plenty.
If you have one character, one actor and one ongoing line for the best part of half an hour you’d better make damn sure they’re all in full working order – because the audience has nowhere else to go in that time, not even the humming corner bar in the back room at The Casa.
The Hope Street venue – Liverpool’s answer to what a pub would look like if a Trade Union ran it – has been a popular haunt for theatre productions recently, with Gathering Jack recently on in the large back room. It’s not a verstile performance space, but its simple stage suits 3 Women perfectly well.
Things kick off with The Game, a risque, knockabout farce (can you have a monologue that’s a farce? or vice versa?) that puts a brassy, Mancunian tart-with-a-heart amid what appears to be a high-level political scandal.
It’s engaging and funny and very enjoyable – all cocks and fannies and tits – and Donna Lesley Price is excellent in the part. She doesn’t hold back, but the way the part is written there doesn’t seem much point not going for it – it’s rather Carry On meets Shameless, but Shameless is really Carry On Manchester anyway, so that’s OK.
There are some nice observations though – a woman who’s ashamed to shop at Aldi so she takes Marksies bags with her to keep up appearances. It seems to be building towards something of a twist in the tale, but ends rather suddenly instead.
Next up is Perfect, to be honest the weakest of the trilogy. Kayla Keatley doesn’t have enough in the way of direction or script to shine as Alf in a segment that plods through a depressing narrative about abuse and its ramifications that seemed too close to the kitchen-sink monologues of worthy theatre productions.
Finally Weave takes things in a different direction again, introducing Arabella – the kind of Liverpool girl one might see on the arm of a footballer or stumbling out of certain Liverpool nightspots. Delivering a note-perfect analogue of this Ladies Day grotesque is Jennifer Bea, but just when the segment seems to be settling in it shifts gear into something altogether different.
Weave becomes something rather serious and sad, then enchanting, then redemptive – and all from that initial scouse-about-town set-up. It’s a wonderful little monologue brought to life beautifully by Bea, who is funny, then sad, then bitch queen from Hell in rapid succession and a real success in every part.
It brings an enjoyable evening’s entertainment to a close on a high point. Three productions of different tone and subject matter make for a pleasingly varied tapas-like selection of performance. Liverpool’s fringe theatre seems to be in good health and providing some real quality around the city in exchange for pennies. Get out there and sample a couple of dishes.