Writing a play about a relationship does seem a big risk – what if the chemistry between the actors doesn’t hold up? What if the situation is too specific, and the audience find the premise too limited? Thankfully, Scene proves these concerns unfounded. Written by Lola Olufemi and Martha Krish and performed by Saskia Ross and Laura Cameron, the play revolves around the interracial relationship between two women, Ayo and Flo. It’s a smart, sensitive look at the difficulties that can come from having different experiences to your partner.
Saskia Ross is excellent as Ayo, with notable ease and confidence onstage. The play begins with her directly addressing assumptions she has faced as a young black woman in the UK, and throughout the play she discusses issues of prejudice and racism eloquently, aided by a well-written script. Importantly, Scene doesn’t shy away from showing her partner Flo’s occasional cluelessness regarding issues of race – instead, the play shows how both characters have to work to understand each other’s experiences, while making obvious the respect and love that underpins their relationship. The romance is lightened with wit, and certain aspects and references are instantly, pleasingly recognisable to a queer audience.
Although Scene doesn’t follow a clear narrative pattern, conflicts arise later in the play which demonstrate the acting skills of the pair. Flo’s mother appears via a phone call and functions as something of an adversary to the relationship, a realistic representation of one of the hurdles that queer couples still often have to face. However, the staging does interfere with the emotional impact at times – there is a frankly exhausting and unnecessary amount of running around and walking on and off the stage.
Much more successfully, the play repeatedly engages with the issues of its formation, with Ayo and Flo debating over what to include and whether they are being portrayed fairly. The audience are encouraged to consider how to put a relationship on stage, and the potential impact of doing so on that relationship. This engagement with the meta enables Scene to be tied up in a sweet, emotionally satisfying way.
For anyone looking for a warm, thoughtful reflection on a relationship to finish off their Fringe, it’s an excellent choice.