Lobster review – young love needs more time in a heartfelt two-hander

Lobster review – young love needs more time in a heartfelt two-hander


Two women, known only as K and J, are introduced to each other at a party. But they already have history. As the pair stare at each other, frozen in time, is it the moment that will rekindle their broken relationship? Or is it the one that finally buries it?

We never find out in Lucy Foster’s two-hander, which uses the party moment to spool through the young women’s relationship from their first date onwards. It offers two very different perspectives: the troubled K sees the two of them as a glass-like structure – fragile, glistening and imperfect – while J views them like a wall of bricks.

It is good to see a gay female relationship presented on stage with such matter of fact understatement and without comment. Although the issue of gay marriage arises (a privilege, says J; a long overdue right, declares K) the focus here is not on LGBTQ issues but simply on the love story.

Lobster at Theatre 503,

Photograph: Ali Wright

The ordinariness of the situation and the characters is appealing, even if Foster never quite meets the challenge of making ordinariness seem compelling. The piece relies too much on the personality contrast of the two. J is a goofy, home-loving, church-going, settled soul; an optimist of Pollyannaish proportions. K is prickly and smart with a history of depression dating back to sixth-form. Their outlooks are in opposition, but can love glue them together?

Director Kayla Feldman tries to bind them with a distracting background soundtrack of hit love songs that sometimes underscore the action. The problem is that, although there are some moments of sparky writing, and two winning performances from Louise Beresford as K and Alexandra Reynolds as J, the characters are not sufficiently interesting to hold the attention. And the play throws in a couple of curveballs to do with mental health issues, without really setting them up properly.

This feels like a promising first draft, still very much in need of dramaturgical support to sharpen and provide focus. But despite the flaws it is a heartfelt and truthful play, that uses comedy of recognition – particularly around dating rituals – to canny effect.

At Theatre 503, London, until 20 January. Box office: 020-7978 7040.

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