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The Reviews Hub - When Rachel Met Fiona – The Space, London

Writer: Colette Cullen

Director: Maya Shimmin

No stranger to LGBTQ+ drama, Colette Cullen navigates the ups and downs of love and marriage in her new one-act play When Rachel Met Fiona. Rachel (Megan Jarvie) and Fiona (Florence Russell) begin their relationship as two sides of the same coin, but as trust and respect begin to break down, this intimate performance examines the conflicting nature of a loving marriage.

Although advertised as a comedy-drama, the show leaves a little to be desired with the former, with the wit and humorous quips taking a strong lead in the opening, but petering out across the duration of the performance. The play is likely to put you in mind of a slice-of life-piece, rather than a fully-fledged drama, with the narrative told through the most decisive moments in the couple’s life across a period of 10 years, and despite the advertised genre-blend, it comes across more as social realism, told as a timeline rather than a story. The plot also seems to lose its structure, leaving you grasping for a story arc, with each scene reading like a mini-act, in which the characters set the tone, very quickly fluctuate between extreme emotions, find a resolution, then repeat in the next scene. The play tends to touch on points of life rather than life as a whole, drawing it away from conventional storytelling towards a more spectator-like narrative.

The characters themselves are beautifully complex, written with a natural friction familiar to anyone who’s been in a long-term relationship, and flawlessly executed by Jarvie and Russell. Every beat has a strong foundation in the emotional and social interactions, and dialogue flows naturally, with every moment of silence carrying equal depth and insight into the psychological core of each character.

The material stretches over a wide range of issues, especially those not usually addressed in LGBTQ+ theatre, such as infertility and discrimination within the LGBTQ+ community. The most praise-worthy element of the play is the non-focus on sexuality, with the story revolving around the characters and their shared life, rather than the nature of their relationship. It’s a life story, rather than an LGBTQ+ story, and is a refreshing perspective on sexuality in modern theatre. It’s an honest and entertaining rendition of real life.

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