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Congratulations and farewell to Mike Bradwell, outgoing artistic director of the Bush Theatre. For 10 years, he has kept this pub theatre at the forefront of new British playwriting. Whereas the level of plays at the Royal Court and Hampstead theatres has often fluctuated alarmingly, the Bush’s track record has stayed steadily impressive.
For his final production, Bradwell is giving us an excellent new play by Georgia Fitch, whose adrenalin…heart he directed so powerfully in 2004. I Like Mine With A Kiss is about two unmarried 39-year-old women, best friends, for each of whom it is almost impossible to be the kind of modern woman who has it all. Annie is a single mother with a small-time career in aromatherapy; Louise is childless and a successful English teacher. Fitch is superbly disarming in the way she lets us discover important information about each woman only bit by bit: it is easy to assume that Louise is just a drunken slapper until – one of the funniest lines in the play – she mentions that tomorrow she is teaching Cymbeline to the sixth form. At separate stages in the play, each woman finds herself pregnant. One chooses to keep the baby but has a miscarriage, the other chooses to abort but still experiences regret and grief.
Fitch’s talent for gradually disclosing more information about each woman never seems a mere playwriter’s trick. In Annie’s case, we see her, from early on, connected to mother and daughter: what takes time is to see just how much force each have been exerting on her existence. Louise, the more independent and lonely of the two, is the more difficult but remarkable character. The play could use a better title: this one suggests that these women are primarily looking for (sexual) love, whereas Fitch’s heroines are far more ambiguous. Michele Butterly and Heather Craney brilliantly follow Fitch’s lead in revealing their characters moment by moment, and there are scenes with Linda Broughton and Jade Williams that make this a sometimes heart-stopping drama about three generations of women.
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