The Speed Twins at Riverside Studios
From Maureen Chadwick, the creator of TV hits Bad Girls and Footballers’ Wives, comes The Speed Twins, a unique comedy exploring themes of love and regret. Starring an all-female cast including theatrical heavyweight Amanda Boxer, Chadwick’s latest venture is directed by Simon Evans and brought to the stage by Big Broad Productions.
Prim widow Queenie (Polly Hemmingway) finds herself stuck in an ethereal nightclub called The Gateways following a stint in hospital for cancer treatment. She is shortly joined by the jovial Ollie, and the beautiful Shirley – the long lost and as yet unacknowledged love of Queenie’s youth. As the trio attempt to accept the club (which Ollie knowingly dubs “Dyke Heaven”) as some form of purgatory, they must also come to terms with their own demons – for Queenie, her true sexuality, Shirley, the unrequited love that she so desperately clung to, and Ollie, the lifelong hardships that come with being out and proud.
The script is vivid and gorgeous. Queenie and Shirley’s individual histories are so lacklustre compared with their time together as the glamorous Speed Twins that their almost-love-story becomes truly tragic. Despite the heavy subject matter, the play boasts a sharp and well-established wit.
Leading the cast, Hemmingway is entirely fitting as the religious, regretful Queenie. However, though undeniably a fantastic actress, her exaggerated gestures and demeanour are somewhat excessive for this clever comedy, and would be better suited to classical theatre. Meanwhile, Boxer is as impressive as her lengthy resume would suggest, bringing life and deeper character to her token comic character, Ollie. Rounding out the cast, Mia Mackie is simply mesmerising as Shirley. It is amazing to watch Mackie bring to Shirley all the vibrancy and hopefulness of a young girl in love, and simultaneously all the caution and vulnerability of an elderly woman full of lament.
The crew have done an admirable job turning The Gateways club into an otherworldly realm. Dim, mysterious lighting and dry ice give the set the look of the afterlife, while odd, jarring sound effects add a wonderful, intangible creepiness. Overall, this production is clearly a labour of love – so much hard work has gone into the play and it shows in each and every detail. With excellent writing and compelling performances The Speed Twins is certainly worth a watch.
Photos: Catherine Ashmore
The Speed Twins is on at Riverside Studios until 28th September 2013, for further information or to book visit here.