How We Begin
King’s Head Theatre
Reviewed – 11th August 2019
“It’s always wonderful to see roles written for women that are robust and real”
Surfacing Act Theatre present their debut play, How We Begin at the King’s Head Theatre in Islington. Written by Elisabeth Lewerenz, it depicts the beautifully complex love story of best friends Helen and Diana.
How We Begin is described, by the company, as ‘a queer female love story, told in a way, which has never been told before’ and after watching the show you can understand why they would so, boldly, declare this. Their production, certainly, has a unique voice and style that sharply defines itself. Surfacing Act Theatre was founded in 2019 when Elisabeth Lewerenz and Elizabeth Benbow (director) met during the VAULT Festival’s New Writers Showcase. Finding a kindred affinity for storytelling, they joined forces to write queer narratives which are often overlooked and left on the periphery of our stages.
The show begins with Helen (Talia Pick) and Diana (Emma Lucia) who intimately share their journey of friendship to secret lovers and then back to friendship again. This cyclical love tale; poignant and incredibly witty, was deftly navigated by Pick and Lucia who portrayed the vulnerable and conflicted characters with great emotional intelligence. Both actresses were confident, displaying perfect comic timing as they bantered on stage. Their presentation of the flexible duality of love, delicately peeled away the binary spectrum so predominantly seen. It’s always wonderful to see roles written for women that are robust and real. Lewerenz’s writing provided the platform for these actresses to thrive and Benbow’s direction was the catalyst to making the piece a seamless and engaging watch.
The stage was designed (Delyth Evans) with minimalist precision and though the space was not particularly large, somehow, it began to expand before our eyes; transporting us from one location to the next. This illusion was facilitated by the subtle lighting cues (Lucía Sánchez Roldán) that silently sang alongside the action whilst steering the direction of the play. Such is the magic of theatre when it is done well – all wheels of the production moving in one smooth motion.
The true power of this play, however, is in the ‘ordinariness’ of it. It is a transferable story, relatable to all ages, genders and demographics and yet this ordinary story (and those like it) are ignored and rarely represented. How We Begin opens up the box that queer love is repeatedly stuffed into and draws out the many layers and nuances that exist within it.
Surfacing Act Theatre have created an astute, professional and accomplished production. If this is what they achieve as a debut, then they have a bright future ahead of them.
Reviewed by Pippin
Photography by Charlie Sambrook
How We Begin
King’s Head Theatre until 12th August
Previously reviewed at this venue: