The Forbidden, The Canvas Cafe - Review

Doll's Eye Theatre's mandate is to produce plays  that challenge the perceptions of gender. A very exciting mission statement and one that gives great scope for groundbreaking storytelling. Their latest play The Forbidden is anything but 'safe', and features young women who are every bit as driven and conflicted as their male counterparts.

Playing in the downstairs theatre area of The Canvas Cafe, just off Brick Lane, The Forbidden (written by Tina Jay and directed by Amy Ewbank) is a suitably intimate venue for a play about once-close ties.

Lauren (Danielle Nott) arranges to meet with Steffi (Catherine Deevy), an old friend at a cafe. A relatively quiet and polite young woman, Steffi's involved in fashion design and taking suggestions about the sort of dress she should design for Lauren's daughter. It's not long before Alex (Vicki Welles) plus her friend/PA Bri (Kirsty Osman) arrive.
Although Alex who is no wallflower, it is clear she's unhappy about seeing Steffi there and starts to make excuses for leaving. It's only the intervention of Bri that assuages Alex's fears, making us wonder why Lauren felt it necessary to bring them together again. However to see why there is awkwardness between these old 'acquaintances' at all, we have to see them 12 years ago, when they were in their early teens and in some ways very different people...

The energy that the actors brought to the play reminded me of another all-female ensemble – The Well-Behaved Women – who in the summer put on their black comedy Dog Play Dead. However without giving away the  plot of The Forbidden, what distinguishes this play from others is the lengths the girls in Jay's play are prepared to go to. As for how they're affected by the event during their school days, the play's closer in spirit to Morgan Lloyd Malcom's The Wasp. There are some things that just won't stay buried...

(c) Michael Davis 2015

NB: The Forbidden has extended its runs at The Canvas Cafe until 26th October 2015.



Author's review: