Opportunities for humour abound and Florence Hall brings a comic naivety to the role of Betty, with Lucy Newman-Williams a convincing Dottie. But beneath the comedy runs a darker current. In the midst of cake-making, Betty bursts out with questions about her body and sex, they exchange a long and inappropriate kiss and Betty tries to hide under her mother’s skirt. Betty has never played outside and only goes out accompanied by Dottie. Her limited knowledge of the world is gleaned from the Reader’s Digest.
Today all this is to change. It is Betty’s 18th birthday and
Dottie gives her a cake bearing the message “Goodbye”, a packed suitcase and a
one-way bus ticket. She must go and find herself a husband. This is an engaging start, balancing
the real and surreal in an unsettling mix.
However, as the play unfolds the
balance shifts. The minute Betty leaves, Dottie transforms into a modern
wife, writing her book on the kitchen table and telling husband Robert (Ryan
Early) to get his own dinner.
Some time passes and Betty returns with a potential husband for herself, Philip (Michael Benz), and puts her wifely skills into practice. But Philip has something to tell her. Without giving too much away, his horrific revelation, which draws on recent true events, also reveals playwright Bekah Brunstetter’s purpose: to explore how such events occur in the real world. However, this challenging subject sits uncomfortably with the surreal world and comic tone of the play. Brunstetter also fails to address the true horror of Betty’s story, showing her learning she is the victim of a woman she loves, but sidestepping the pain such knowledge would bring. You May Go Now is a daring but ultimately flawed play.
- Louise Gooding