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Review: Grass at the Butterfly Club

Review By Flora Norton

Grass is an evocative and moving piece which depicts the strains and struggles that we encounter in our friendships as we grow older. The play transcends age and context however, and is, at its core, a tale of change, loss, and how selfishly we often navigate it, resonating palpably with every member of the audience. The performance is comic and energised, while the script has been thoughtfully and wittily crafted, and the product is a highly engaging and compelling piece of theatre.

The story follows two women in their early thirties who have taken drastically different routes in life and find themselves torn in a battle of self-doubt, jealousy and resentment. While Aimee is happily married with two kids and has settled down with a stable job and home, Lil is a free spirit, single and recently returned from a spontaneous trip around Europe. Both standby by the decisions they’ve made and the routes they have chosen, and yet around each other the find themselves feeling irritated, undermined and insecure.

The audience watch as they sit through a painfully awkward coffee date, laughing and nodding in understanding as each of the characters make snarky and passive aggressive comments at the other. The performance of both women brings vitality and humour to an otherwise pessimistic story, and their facial expressions and body language powerfully express their emotions, as if each are battling to get the audience on side.

Through an exaggerated acting style, both women convey their flaws and shortcomings and in doing so, encourage the audience to examine and reflect upon their own relationships, and consider them from another perspective.

The set is simple, the set-changes disjointed, and the quality of acting is, at moments, unconvincing and yet for the first time in my theatre experience none of these imperfections detracted from the effectiveness or entertainment of the overall piece. Perhaps because I too have experienced change and have grappled with the unexpected impacts it has had on my relationships, I was completely engaged from the beginning and curious to see if and how these two women resolved their differences.

As the story unravels, the characters’ feelings of self-assurance and bitterness are exchanged for an admission of their insecurity in their own lives, their concern for the future, and their belief that the other is infinitely more comfortable, more secure and happier than they are. This revelation of their inner turmoil is powerfully presented through two monologues delivered by each character, in which we see them vulnerable and self-reflective for the first time.

The tension imbuing their coffee date is broken at times by several flashbacks to their early friendship, when they were carefree and reckless in their twenties. The contrast in their relationship between now and then is confronting and powerfully highlights how much can change, and what a pivotal stage in our lives our late twenties can be.

While Grass is certainly not the best piece of theatre I’ve seen in terms of performance, it is perhaps the piece that has resonated most with me and been the biggest trigger for self-reflection. The script and story are not only relatable, but clever and entertaining and remind us that no matter how much people may try to conceal it, nobody is truly happy, and everybody is fighting a battle that we may know nothing about.

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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