Venue: Contact
Where: Manchester

A script-in-hand taster of Manchester playwright Chris Hoyle’s work-in-progress. Three interlinked monologues introduce us to the females in the life of gay man, David, on the day he gets married to his long-term partner.

The speeches, all brilliantly written, are bawdy, funny but shot through with melancholy. All three women – David’s ex-girlfriend Katy Hughes, his pill-popping fag-hag bezzie mate, Kate  Nicola Ingram, and his bewildered mother Ruth Evans, all have much to come to terms with.

“You look like a lady but you act like a slag,” is how David describes Kate and she doesn’t nothing to disabuse us of this notion. Life for her is one long party which, it’s obvious to us, is all to cover up the fact she is in love with a gay man. All the characters are self-deluded and a little but unhappy, but it’s Kate who is by far the most damaged of them all; indeed, a section in which she admits to sexually abusing David (“I sucked him off and stuck a finger up his bum”) when he was passed out, is shocking, disturbing and, yes, bizarrely funny.

It is these darker elements that one looks forward to being built upon when the full-length piece has been written. For now, though, Women throws this Manchester audience into the tacky but infectiously joyous world of a gay wedding. It should be hoped, too, that the same cast are retained, together with director Trevor MacFarlane who has coaxed spirited but moving performances out of his talented actors.

A fantastically entertaining half hour show that this reviewer, and the audience he sat with, would love to see return as a full-length piece.

- Ian Winterton