Love You, Too at the Bush Theatre
'Hell', wrote the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, 'is other people'. That assessment appears to be right on the money, if the God-awful characters in Doug Lucie s new play are anything to go by. In all honesty, the four ‘friends in Love You, Too are the sort you wouldn't wish on anyone, except, of course each other.
Ros (Miranda Foster) and Shelley (Susannah Doyle) are bosom pals, who share flats, a taste for garish clothes and inane dialogue. Ros is going out with Jim (Reece Dinsdale), who is an estate agent, and New Lad; while Shelley has paired off with Mick (Sam Graham), an alcoholic rock guitarist, with music-snob opinions (sample: “Oasis are just The Beatles, with Ringo in charge”).
Over the course of the six acts - which are set between the ‘92 and ‘97 general elections - relationships fragment and lives are wrecked, but through it all, Ros and Shelley emerge as survivors. Why, all these girls need is some sun and surf before starting afresh with their lives once more.
Lucie's satire points out the difference between the sexes - as Jim puts it, “women are from Venus and I m from Cricklewood” - and occasionally highlights some important inequalities. For example, Mick is portrayed as 'a good father', but after he and Shelley split up, he is still cut out of his son's life, and milked for all he's worth by those villains at the child support agency.
There are laughs in Lucie's script, though these are almost inevitably of the nastier kind - either cruel barbs or base humour predominate for most of the play. Of course, what makes for a funny joke is obviously a very subjective area, but to my mind, when you have to resort to topics like diarrhoea and masturbation, you ve already scraped right through the bottom of that barrel marked ‘humour .
If there is a fundamental problem with Ros, Shelley, Jim and Mick, it's that, despite the fact that each of them have their fair share of problems, we never really feel sorry for them. Ultimately, what you have with Love You, Too are characters so crudely brushstroked, and so devoid of emotional depth, that this play isn't so much satire, as sitcom.