False Teeth present an honest and well thought-out production of this slightly dated piece, the actors bringing genuine emotion to somewhat stereotypically written female ‘types’. Caroline (Lauren Dingsdale), pregnant by one of two men, struggles to keep her emotions in check and has fled to a room in the house of the bitter, bohemian Stella (Bella Heard – hope the foot gets better soon!). Their relationship develops strongly, as does that of Caroline with her former schoolmate Fran (Avigail Agam) – the devoted mother struggling to ignore a less than perfect marriage. The three performers played this ‘three ages of women’ sensitively, as Fran and Stella struggle to exert their influence over the malleable Caroline.
On the eve of Caroline’s 21st birthday they are joined by Kate (Sophie Duncan) – Fran and Caroline’s lesbian former English teacher and also landlady to Caroline at university in Leeds – and her energetic, would-be activist, teenaged lover D (Molly Davies). As each satellite character tries to impose her will on Caroline’s decision regarding what to do about her soon-to-be-born child, tensions rise. Labour also brings Caroline’s mother, Sheelagh (Kathryn Atherton) into the story as a disapproving/disappointed member of the oldest generation here represented. A business-like nurse with a human side (Mary Waireri) completed the cast, other parts being doubled.
I couldn’t help feeling at times that the playwright wasn’t too clear on how women talk, act and react in their own company: these are clearly ‘types’ rather than genuine characters. That said, the ensemble playing showed thought and energy, particularly at the beach, and moments of genuine emotion – most particularly in Stella’s reminiscences at the hospital and Kate’s parting from Caroline to return to Leeds. All members of the cast deserve praise for consistent and sensitive playing, while production (Chris Wootton), direction (Titas Halder) and lighting (Emily Porter) combined to produce a very watchable play. Plus you get Hendrix during the scene changes!