Afternoon tea is served with a side of heartache in Fourth Wall Theatre Company’s Ladies Who Lunch. In this fast-paced performance, cynical Sally Williams is invited to lunch with friends she hasn’t spoken to for 30 years. Things have inevitably changed since then, and as these ladies catch up on the past, it becomes evident that they’re rubbing salt on old wounds.
Written by Niamh Collins, the script alone is enough to make this a stand-out show. Inspired by her own experiences of traditionalism growing up, Ladies Who Lunch is a great example of how societal opinions differ throughout generations. As it touches on topics such as postnatal depression, this show isn’t afraid to get into the nitty-gritty of motherhood – and having a character such as Lorena, the daughter of one of the Ladies, provides a refreshing perspective on why some women don’t want children.
Yet despite the serious topics addressed within the play, there is still plenty of room for well-timed comedy, which earned giggles from the audience on the day I attended. It’s well-paced and well-judged, with endearing characters breaking the heavy silences caused by the clashes between Sally and traditionalist Vera. The characters all have an excellent dynamic which ensures that sitting around a table for an hour is far from a stationary experience.
The actors bounce off each other flawlessly, creating a real sense of individualism amongst the differing roles. Whilst there is a clear theme of lost friendship among them, the development of the characters was extremely progressive; Vera especially stood out as an authoritative figure, who gave me a different perspective on why some people may cling to idealisms behind motherhood.
With the expression of such diverse opinions, Ladies Who Lunch is a compact experience which delves into some controversial beliefs around what makes a good mother. With each view that’s voiced, the Ladies strategically tear it apart and then sew it back together, with laughter and tears wedged in the middle. By the time lunch is finished, it is clear there is no one clear path in motherhood – but we do gain an insight into taboo subjects that may broaden our perspective on what it means to be a mother.