It seems fitting that such a feminine play, in the broadest sense of the
word, should be performed on International Women's Day. Looking at the
various trials and tribulations of four women across three generations,
Karin Young's The Awkward Squad demonstrates how much and how little
the world and their values have changed.
Placing a magnifying glass on the female side of a working class family
unit from Newcastle ensures a refreshing experience right from the outset.
With Thatcher and the miners' strike of yesteryear measured up against
Cameron's welfare cuts and 'big society' in the present day, The Awkward
Squad is an original comedy that looks both backwards and forwards.
Grandmother Lorna, brilliantly played with dry comedic
flair by Barbara Marten, was a tireless campaigner during the 1980s miners' strike. She is
preparing a speech at a local community centre named after her, only to be
surrounded by chaos after her two daughters Pam (Libby Davison) and Sandy
(Charlie Hardwick) along with granddaughter Sarah (Lisa McGrillis) come to
At first they seem to have all achieved something, whether it's a BAFTA
award or simply having a posh car or a nice pair of breast implants. But
perhaps the play's most resonant message is that anything gained can be lost
and that there comes a point where all angels fall in their own sort of
The stage design is particularly inventive too. Text messages received from
their friends and acquaintances suddenly pop up with a 'ping' on the
backdrop that serve to reveal what's on their minds, as do images of the
miners' strike and other pictures from Lorna's photo album, which lend some
On occasion The Awkward Squad is not always quite sure what it wants
to be with some deep messages about the grittier side of life mashed in
between lazy one-liners. Yet on the whole the jokes work, the parts are well observed and the story
is both heart-warming and thought provoking.
Ultimately The Awkward Squad is funny and sharply written - a
real testament to womens' spirit of togetherness and how perhaps, just
sometimes, they really don't need men at all.