Being ushered into the M&D Room, a certain tall, handsome fellow caught my eye immediately. He was already on stage and appeared to be looking straight at me as I entered, his blue suit and cheeky grin making me blush. I am, of course, talking about the life-sized cardboard cut-out of Tom Hiddleston. In terms of immediately grabbing the audience’s attention, this tactical piece of setting did a fabulous job, seconded only by the tubs of Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream located front and centre stage. A bottle of red wine next to a noticeably comfy couch completed the look.
The opening of the play had four grown girls coming on stage in their pyjamas and plonking themselves down on the couch, proceeding to watch the ever-beloved Disney film ‘Ariel’. In terms of the various reactions one would have when watching a Disney film, the ensemble captured them to a tee, their individual characters immediately being made evident; one girl stared at the “screen” and melodramatically reached for a tissue, another lounging back in sheer bliss, the other singing along to the tunes with full gusto, and the last one scowling in defiance at so childish a film still having such an effect on grown women. When one tub of Ben and Jerry’s was finished a hilarious moment of slow-motion to get to the other tub had the audience in hysterics, the ‘Chariots of Fire’ soundtrack playing in the background as hair was pulled and legs kicked in order to reach the glorious beacon first. Resettling on the couch with several slightly disgruntled and one triumphant and appreciative mumble, an iconic discussion took place about preferences between Disney princes: It was Tarzan vs Eric and the couch was very much divided.
an exquisitely relatable, beautifully written, and truly riotous comedy about a night of guilty pleasures
The play incorporated and embellished every key girly moment, from engineering the perfect Instagram picture to newly discovering Tinder and piercing each others’ ears. As a female member of the audience, I felt as if I were watching scenes from my own life unfold right on that stage. The Tinder skit had the girls running on the spot, seemingly past the dozens of swipable bachelors, and using the dramatic gestures of swiping with their arms and star jumps for super-likes to create a very active performance with high energy. One of the most remarkable things about the play was, in fact, the sheer amount of energy and enthusiasm the ensemble put into their performances. Physical theatre was used to compensate effectively for a lack of props and the limited staging, and the use of a single main outfit for the costumes was equally impressive; the girls remained in their pyjamas throughout but wore lipstick and earrings to go clubbing and put on the same jacket for their dates. The struggles, stress, and disappointments of first dates were delved into, with hilariously shocking horror stories being disclosed and the conclusion reached that it is always better to stay in with your girls and the one man, despite being two dimensional, who consistently proves that chivalry is not dead.
Yet as comic, if not at times satirical, as the play was, a more serious undertone emerged through the monologues given to each girl. At first, the device of a voice-over was used, which had the girls mouthing what their disembodied voices were saying to an eerie effect. Advice about relationships and heartbreak was given, making you realise how subjective and individual love and relationships are, and how there is no absolute rulebook to adhere to. Each monologue had the speaker disclosing more about herself to the audience than she had to her friends. The raw pain of being dumped, being insecure, feeling overwhelmed, and generally having to put up barriers resounded with each and every audience member in the recognition that there are things that we hide and that are left unsaid in the fear that it would change others’ perception of us. Nevertheless, throughout the play, the comradery and support the girls showed towards each other was truly heart-warming, and reminded one of the importance of having your close friends around whilst proving yet again the timeless saying that lovers will come and go but friends are forever.
The cyclical ending of the play had the girls back on the couch watching ‘Ariel’ and singing along in solidarity, the turmoil and action of the past hour culminating in the familiar once again. ‘How to Win at Breakups’ proved to be an exquisitely relatable, beautifully written, and truly riotous comedy about a night of guilty pleasures, which captured the essence of what it is to be a girl and the importance of your gal pals.