Pros: A beautiful insight into the minds of four teen girls as they come of age.
Cons: More work is required to make the conversations feel much more natural.
Eve, Robbie, Misha and Looby: four teenage girls protected from much of the world due to the privilege of their private education. Of course that also means protected from boys. So it’s no surprise that much of Walk Swiftly and with Purpose explores that aspect of any teens life, the opposite sex. And like all teens, it is messy.
Misha (Miranda Shamiso) thinks she is in love with Mr Hughes (Adam Mirsky), which is a problem as he is her teacher. Lana (Looby Mills) is in love with Robbie’s brother’s friend, except he takes ten days to reply to her text messages so she isn’t sure he feels quite the same. Eve (Grainne Dromgoole), when she isn’t thinking of self-harming, is obsessed with faithfulness, because it’s clear her parents aren’t so bothered by it. And Robbie (Theodora Mead) just wants to be kissed. By anyone. But she doesn’t want her friends to know she is still waiting for that first one. As they so precisely sum up during one conversation, “We’re all insecure”.
The play is a beautifully realistic glimpse into the innermost thoughts of four girls taking that big step from girl to woman. It touches on topics we can all relate to, ones we were probably all discussing and worrying about at that age. Smoking, because it looks cool; that spot developing on the chin a few days before a party. And of course the opposite sex.
But Walk Swiftly and with Purpose is much more than just four girls talking. As conversations deepen between them, they pause, and the audience is directly addressed to give context to the conversation. The relevance of what previously seemed flippant remarks is explained. It’s a brave style that could fall flat on its face, but in the hands of a fine cast and superb direction from Imy Wyatt Corner, they manage to pull it off. And in doing so it adds that depth the conversations require to avoid it being four privileged girls talking like, well, four privileged girls. Maybe the best compliment that could be given is that in style it has a feel of Caryl Churchill’s Escaped Alone, the conversational elements paused to explore the depths of them more, turning the mundane into something more, sometimes even sinister.
Siofra Dromgoole’s debut play is not all perfect: the conversational elements, whilst good in context, aren’t as flowing as they could be; the language is just a touch too scripted, a little unnatural. These girls might be rich, privileged and well educated, but the words that they speak still don’t feel like the language any teen girls would use when it’s just the four of them together. There isn’t the natural feel that the best conversational theatre can have.
After some well-crafted development of our four girls, their back stories subtly brought together through their conversations, everything comes to a head the night of the big party. It’s the girls’ first exposure to such a party, so it’s not hard to guess much of what goes on: drink, drugs and the opposite sex. It’s a cocktail that again has great realism, and which we can all no doubt associate with. It’s here that Walk Swiftly and with Purpose passes that all-important test. It’s funny and enjoyable up to that point, but now its message needs to be heard to give it a purpose. And thankfully it does so with style and beauty that suggests that this is a play and a creative team with potential.
Writen by: Siofra Doomgoole
Directed by: Imy Wyatt Corner
Produced by: Tabitha Piggott/Three Sisters
Box Office: 020 7978 7040
Booking link: https://theatre503.com/whats-on/walk-swiftly-and-with-purpose/
Booking until: 17th November 2018