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Review: Dames, at Pleasance Theatre

Snappy and funny play attempts to unravel the mystery of ladies’ toilets in a glittery and glorious club

30 April, 2018 — By Billie Manning

Olivia Elsden, Melanie Stevens, Charlotte Merriam, Bianca Stephens and Ellie Heydon in Dames. Photo: Scott Rylander

WHAT are they DOING in there?

Many have asked this about the ladies’ toilet in a club, and Dames attempts to unravel this mystery.

April Dalton’s set is glittery and glorious, with streamers hanging from the ceiling and an actual golden throne to represent the mythologised loo.

Combined with the pulsing music, you are transported into the club setting immediately and there is palpable excitement before the play even starts.

This excitement is sustained for the first third of the play: the five characters sometimes verge on stereotype but are in general warm and well-defined, with the exception of Cardiff (Melanie Stevens), who appears to be a carbon copy of “Nessa” from Gavin and Stacey.

The acting is snappy and funny and some interesting dynamics are set up: the will-they-won’t-they attraction between naïve Emily (Ellie Heydon) and sardonic Bianca (Olivia Elsden) for example.

Unfortunately, a sort of play-within-a-play meta-plot is introduced which soon gets hugely confusing.

This means the play veers between spot-on observations and frankly mystifying moments in which meaning is lost.

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