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Review: Enough (Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh)

Stef Smith's new play opens at the Edinburgh Fringe

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Louise Ludgate and Amanda Wright in Enough
© Lara Capelli

Stef Smith is a writer of uncanny precision. Her new play presents two air hostesses in their middle years and in the centre of their own mid-life crises. It does so in an ever-shifting dialogue of choppy, short sentences, in which the women – Toni and Jane – confront each other and the inadequacy of their lives.

The messiness and unhappiness of the reality, which they barely confess even to each other, stands in sharp contrast to the image of calm, controlled, sexy efficiency which their uniforms suggest. A duologue – "I am the image of escape/A symbol of sex appeal and sightseeing" – runs through the play, its iteration becoming a little more frayed and desperate each time it appears, with the women fixing their smiles, pulling up their posture, and assuming their roles.

Gradually, as the drama sensitively directed by Bryony Shanahan unspools, we learn that Toni is trapped in an abusive relationship and Jane is fighting against her own sense of self-loathing by striving to run the perfect family. Their disappointments are perhaps a little generic, but what makes the play interesting is that their sense of the ground cracking beneath their feet relates not only to the instability of their own lives but to the state of the planet itself.

There is a sense, perfectly expressed by Kai Fischer's evocative set, that our very existence, which seems so substantial and fixed, can melt before our eyes; that planes can fall out of the sky in seconds; that a change of attitudes and of what we tell each other about ourselves is the only way to guarantee personal and planetary survival.

That's quite a lot to pack into a running time of fewer than 90 minutes and there is a sense that the play would be better if it was given a little more room to breathe and develop some of its themes. But it is powerful, gripping stuff and brilliantly performed by Louise Ludgate and Amanda Wright who capture both the beats of life as women escaping their troubles in drunken forgetfulness and the terror that lurks beneath.

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