This Wide Night
Former cellmates Lorraine and Marie have served their time and are out. Marie, released first, now exists in an untidy bedsit where every knock at the door induces a knife-brandishing panic. This time it's Lorraine who, out of concern for her long-time-not-seen young pal, is hollering to be let in.
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At first Chloe Moss's two-hander bounces along on the awkward comedy of a visit that's unannounced and not especially welcome. But this becomes a sad little piece, rooted in the neediness of two women who can't master life outside of prison.
Behind bars, they were happily interdependent. Now the relationship is more of a 'can't live with/can't live without you' rollercoaster - they only have each other to cling onto, but Marie is emotionally erratic and Lorraine tends towards the smother-mothering tactics that exacerbate the mood swings. Free? Yes, but not at all liberated from their past.
As director David Greig says in his programme note, This Wide Night is an elusive play. Not much happens, and there's a predictability to what does transpire. The characters, as written, hover on the cusp of cliche so it's entirely down to the performances from Elaine C Smith and Jayd Johnson to make any of this matter - and by dint of playing from the heart (not soggily, but with a compassionate intelligence) that's what they do.
Smith's middle-aged Lorraine keeps rallying, joking and hoping, but a 12-year stretch has left her achingly out of step with the world, while Johnson's waif-like Marie - veering from happy-party mode to a screaming dervish of despair - is truly shackled by the damage others always do to her. Some sentences dished out by life have no reprieve. Ever.