Waking into the main house at the Pleasance for ‘Dames’ the club atmosphere is already alive: sound designer/stage manager Joshua Bowles is spinning tunes on the decks, Ginny (Bianca Stevens) is executing some impressive dance moves and there is glitter literally everywhere. Centre stage is a golden ‘throne’- representing ‘toilet’ you might correctly assume, noticing wreaths of toilet roll flung around it.

The concept for Charlotte Merriam’s debut play is promising, ‘2am on some idle Friday. Six women collide in the only place for honest…a club toilet.’ Most women in their twenties have experience those late night, inebriated toilet chats with friends or more often complete strangers, which usually involve intense bonding, excessive enthusiasm and unnecessary crying. The women in ‘Dames’ have pretty standard anxieties. Am I fat? Does anyone like me? Is semen vegan? The only problem is why would anyone want to listen to this kind of chat in the clear light of day?

‘Dames’ has a lot to recommend it – strong characters, some funny dialogue and a nice concept but in the end it feels like a fairly undigested experiment. There is a dose of meta-theatre and a fair amount of Brechtian direct address if you’re that way inclined but mostly without dramatic purpose. That said, the cast of six are funny and fearless, delivering the wandering dialogue with ease. I’ll be curious to see what Merriam writes next, now this one is out of her cistern…
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