The Hoes at Hampstead Theatre
Ifeyinwa Frederick’s debut play takes us to Ibiza, where three 25-year-old women are in search of sun, sand and sex. However, before their escapism can be fully realised real life catches up with them, and the friends talk candidly about their aspirations and insecurities. At the show’s preview performance, the intimate setting of the downstairs studio at Hampstead Theatre combined with Anna Reid’s minimal set and Jai Morjaria’s soft lighting allows the audience to feel like a fly on the wall. A contemporary soundtrack designed by Duramaney Kamara propels us into the Spanish island and contributes to the fast pace of the production, which runs for approximately 95 minutes without an interval.
It is the acting, however, that draws us in and grasps our attention. Aretha Ayeh as Alex and Nicola Maisie Taylor as J are exceptional in their powerfully understated and naturalistic performances, but Marième Diouf as Bim stands out and elevates the piece with some particularly emotive and sensitive scenes as her character struggles with anxiety and depression. Although depicted in an honest way, this is perhaps one story strand that would have benefited from further exploration. That said, the piece is not specifically about depression, but rather a forensic observation of female millennials and their preoccupations. The dialogue is razor sharp and punchy, often generating laugh-out-loud moments but remaining authentic and true to character throughout, and the bond these women share is incredibly believable and a real joy to watch.
Addressing female sexuality in such an upfront and at times crude manner means this type of play is not for everyone, though in many ways, it’s a piece that everyone who enjoys theatre should see. It is deeply rooted in the now and the genuinely real and raw responses of the characters to situations and events are representative of 20 and 30-somethings trying to navigate through life in 2018. This is a production that has something to say. It both entertains and enlightens. The carefully constructed dialogue, poignant performances and character-driven comedy leave us feeling as warm as we would be in the Ibiza sun, but this getaway is selling fast, so don’t miss the party.
The Hoes is at Hampstead Theatre from 26th October until 1st December 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here. This review is based on a preview performance.
Watch writer Ifeyinwa Frederick discuss The Hoes here: