Muddy Reviews: Me Time at Exeter’s Barnfield Theatre
This comedy play, based around THE most awkward mother/daughter spa weekend, like, EVER, is well worth a watch.
Last night, at the peak of Easter holidays meltdown, me and Mr Muddy were afforded the perfect excuse to escape for a few hours, just the two of us. Rather fittingly, we went to see a play at Exeter’s Barnfield Theatre, called ‘Me Time’ (eh, what’s that then?)
Lesser Spotted Theatre are a fairly new, Devon-based touring group with a penchant for comedy and this is their first production, written by Ross Purdy. The play has only had the one previous outing at Dartington in November last year, with just one more billed for Brixham later this month.
Me Time, as the title suggests, is based around the female members of a dysfunctional family, two grown-up daughters, who find themselves forced to endure a “relaxing” spa-break with Mum. We all know mother-daughter relationships with the tightest bonds, but for every one of those, there are just as many terminally-fractured ones out there too. This one portrays the latter, as all three lead characters bring their own weighty life issues away with them, along with their suitcases. In the overbearing company of maternally narcissistic Mum, Judy, the trip becomes an emotional detox and tensions spill over forcing this family to face up to a few home truths.
Judy, played brilliantly by Gina Carter is both overwhelmingly unbearable and sympathetic at the same time. Somewhere, beneath a self-obsessed shell, there lies a woman with her own deep-rooted issues, who surely only wants the best for her two daughters, yet can’t bring herself to acknowledge it. She’s determined to enjoy the weekend since she deserves it (er, it’s her daughter Amy’s birthday, actually) and she paid for it (we-e-l-l-l she didn’t actually, it was paid for with vouchers).
Amy comes away burdened by the news that her boyfriend has been offered the job of a lifetime in Shanghai. Since they suffered a miscarriage earlier in the year, this could be the new start they both need, but Amy can’t bring herself to bail out on her family….or can she? Amy’s sister Scarlett, meanwhile is in a downward spiral with an eating disorder and a stealing habit, having walked out on her cheating, abusive partner.
Both sisters are desperate to offload their problems and find a peaceful path forwards, but mum Judy puts paid to any suggestion of that. With an inability to listen, she instead strategically places herself in the middle of the whole drama, preventing the sisters from bonding. And in fact, she’s there to reveal her own agenda: from now on, she announces, she’s going to start thinking of herself more, for a change. Well, let’s just say that Judy suffers the consequences.
It’s a well-told tale of modern day life, played out with emotion and comedy. I loved Mum Judy’s attempts at core stability class exercises, as well as her dissection of the bikini wax menu and her incessant bleeting about “Carol; you know Carol, don’t you…?’ (they don’t); Clare Purdy’s portrayal of Amy as an eye-rolling, silently-suffering daughter was bang-on; and Scarlett, played by Sarah Montague displayed that familiar tendency all grown-up siblings have to revert to sulky teenager when back in the family brood, brilliantly.
This is a funny, thought-provoking drama that this fledgling Theatre group should be very proud of. Go see it in Brixham, if you can.
‘Me Time’ will be performed at Brixham Theatre on Fri 21 April at 7.30pm. Tickets from £10. For details visit: lesser-spotted-theatre.com