Tristram Kenton

As played by the wonderful Maisie Richardson-Sellers, the youngest of this Katy Brand-penned female trio is a character I don’t think we’ve ever seen on stage before – a thoroughly modern twentysomething who embraces gender fluidity and believes people are just people, choosing to love who they want how they want and throwing labels out the window.

With strong views about a gender neutral future and a trans partner she’s cyber-dating while she explores her sexuality, Laurie is a remarkable character brought to vivid life by Richardson-Sellers – an actor (and eloquent Gay Times Pride Issue interviewee) who combines such intelligence and warmth it’s easy to see why her mother and grandmother are as intrigued by her forward-thinking ideas as they are enthralled by her free spiritedness.

Well, grandma Eleanor (Anita Dobson) is a bit baffled by Laurie’s outlook, but she doesn’t turn a deaf ear to what Laurie has to say, it’s more a bemused befuddlement that Dobson – a mistress of comic timing and double takes – plays to hilarious effect. Then there’s Suzanne (Debbie Chazen), mother to Laurie and daughter to Eleanor whose next-morning mid-life marriage is what has brought the trio together in a hotel room where champagne, quips and long-buried resentments bubble up across the play’s brisk 85-minute running time.

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It’s a theatrical convention that’s as old as the hills: Bringing disparate characters together so they can verbally slug it out. But Brand puts a new spin on it, addressing what it means to be a woman across three very different generations, which is a very timely conversation brought bang up to date by the youngest girl’s free-flowing views on sex that her gran could never have contemplated.

There are three acts, all in the same hotel room setting, and while Brand opts for the usual nosedive from funny to hard-hitting as scabs are picked at and truths uncovered she deftly brings it all back around, helped immeasurably by her leading ladies. Dobson is quite brilliant at switching from bitchy wit to wounds-bared pathos, Chazen makes a droll sparring partner for her and Richardson-Sellers brings such sunny optimism to Laurie you leave the theatre thinking the future will be that much brighter with her in it.

Gay Times gives 3Women – ★★★★☆

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