Peep by Jodi Gray at Bewley’s Café Theatre – Review by P McGovern
Until March 10th – A New Play by Jodi Gray
The premier of Jodi Gray’s play, Peep, is a welcome addition to the stock of plays by young women writers, for women actors and focusing on women’s issues and perspectives. Sisters are definitely doing it for themselves – even if their focus in this case is, erm, well, men.
Two twenty-something Dublin women, Caitlin and May, armed with binoculars and bottles of water, are keeping vigil at an apartment window. Beneath the bursts of girlie chat and matey exchanges, there is an underlying edginess, even a tension. It is late at night so they are not spotting peregrine falcons or a nest of robins. It turns out that their quarry is an unsuspecting ex-lover in the apartment opposite, spied upon with his current girlfriend or, rather, girlfriends. This guy is quite the Romeo, though without the romance: he doesn’t even believe in foreplay. Although we get the full names of the various girlfriends, he remains just ‘he’, unnamed, the generic rampant male that gets away with murder where women are concerned. That, as it turns out, is not quite the right way to put it.
The dramatic situation is rich with possibilities which Gray exploits with considerable success: observations on the women who are replacing Caitlin and May in the guy’s love life – or rather sex life – speculation about what exactly is being watched on TV or video, fleeting glimpses of what they themselves got up to with him. Occasional moments of sisterly bonding between the two give way to unease, perhaps born of residual jealousy.
Both performances are strong. Emily Fox is a versatile actor of great promise, more than a match for her role as impulsive, flibbertigibbet May, capable of warmth and openness or catty cruelty. Alexandra Conlon is a strong counterbalance, apparently the solid and predictable one, with her feet on the ground. Of course, such appearances can deceive. The strength of the performances is even more evident as the play veers towards something more serious.
Gray’s writing is full of promise. Her characters are believable and she has a good ear for dialogue even if at times she tends to over-write. Some of the scenes could do with a pruning; the seventy-plus minutes could fit into an hour’s run without losing anything of importance. The last scene may owe something to the influence of Martin McDonagh’s writing for theatre, not necessarily a criticism.
Scene changes, marking shifts in time, are unduly disruptive – much taking on and off of jackets, dancing to loud music ending in an overlay of electronic sound as the next scene starts. Otherwise Gavin Kostick’s direction serves the author well.
The show continues at Bewley’s Café Theatre at 1 pm daily Mon. – Sat. until March 10th and is well worth seeing.
A New Play by Jodi Gray
Directed by Gavin Kostick
Starring Alexandra Conlon and Emily Fox