Izzy is team Edward through and through, so much so that he is her secret, and ever so slightly imaginary boyfriend. Ashley Milne’s new play dives right into our fandom obsessions whilst also navigating the nuances of a heteronormative world as a young, queer and Twilight obsessed woman.
To begin with, the casting for this production is excellent. Amelia Paltridge soars as wide-eyed but not all that innocent Izzy, with charm that flows effortlessly. She perfectly conveys lingering teenage angst and the inevitable internal struggle of accepting yourself when you are not the person you expected to be. It is impossible not to root for her. All this allows for great chemistry between herself and Kate Crisp as both imaginary boyfriend Edward and potentially more than just friends Esther. Crisp goes heavy with the flirtatious nature of Izzy’s fantasy lover to great effect and therefore the tension between the two is electric. Caidraic Heffernan completes the cast as Mason, Izzy’s animated colleague, always pining over his ex-girlfriend. Heffernan does well to portray Mason’s warmth and joy and is equally strong when the character is faced with toilsome situations. The ensemble forms a slick unit and navigates challenging scenes together with ease.
Milne’s writing is honest and visceral throughout and jam-packed with detail. Despite moving through tough topics, the characters are allowed to flourish, with Izzy in-particular feeling very personal and relatable, assisted by Paltridge’s brilliant performance. This play is at its best in the moments when it feels like a horny, queer, teen rom-com, full of humour, unease and awkwardness however as the piece progresses it becomes slightly stunted by what feels like forced metaphors and thematics that affect the narrative of the play. I am in no doubt that there are so many complex elements and subtle callbacks embedded in the script that give meaning to the metaphors, but on a first time watch they do not translate clearly enough for an audience. This is a shame because what would likely be heartbreaking moments feel underwhelming and confused.
Roberts’s direction works hard and effectively guides the play through its hour runtime, grounding the play at the right times but also allowing a more abstract style to raise its head as Izzy loses control over Edward. The use of distance and separation is intelligent, with some nice lighting design by Marie Colahan supporting this.
Considering this is teastain theatre’s first run of significant length in the capital, the entire company should be extremely proud of what has been achieved despite this production not quite sticking the landing. There is so much potential and talent on show and with further experience and growth, exciting things are on the horizon. I for one will be first in line to see whatever they do next.
Review: Henry Longstaff Photo: Lydia Joiner