'One of the lads’ Debs is home from a tour in Afghanistan, for good this time, despite her almost religious belief in the righteousness of the armed forces. Father and ‘porn entrepreneur’ Jim welcomes her back with a barked ‘Mate!’ and head tackle, but it’s girly ‘new mum’ Jo she’s most excited to see.
In her first full length play Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s flare for balls out comedy comes through loud and clear but so do the strong signs that she’s also a damn good playwright. Witty bullet fire delivery is as natural as breathing to characters such as Debs as she playfully fights with barracks buddy Sarko, banters softly with Jo or rages at her father. But in Belongings Lloyd Malcolm’s skill for sophisticated subtlety also flickers.
A predatory Sarko watches from the shadows as Debs smokes at her kitchen table, an almost symbiotic word association game transforms into a sensual conversation about a deeper longing; simple moments communicating a thousand things. Sad then that these beautiful theatrical slights of hand are eventually sunk under a mound of overly long emotional exposition, frustrating that in her unruly ending Lloyd Malcolm seems to have lost the courage of her convictions.
Courage is in no short supply in this four hander cast who are all excellent and presided over with confidence by an assured Maria Aberg. In Jo and Debs Lloyd Malcolm has created two complex and fascinating female roles played here with extraordinary empathy by Kirsty Bushell and Joanna Horton. At all times fully present, Bushell and Horton give moment to moment performances of such emotional depth that at points they are truly breathtaking.