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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

You're Being Dramatic, at Theatre Works' Explosives Factory - 90 minutes without interval

Updated: Apr 28

Fifteen-year-olds Arvy (Jess Sofarnos) and Thea (Megan Mitchell) are besties. They met in a science class and have been inseparable ever since.


At their weekly sleepovers, they share intimate secrets, swap stories and say they love each other.


You’re Being Dramatic juxtaposes one such rainy overnighter with a meeting at a pub they have many years later.


By then, of course, both are adults and Thea is married with a daughter.


But back to that sleepover. It appears that nothing is off limits, including boys, girls, masturbation, sex and periods.


Arvy is the harder nosed of the pair and seemingly the braver of the duo. She is also a lesbian.


Thea is softer. She has a boyfriend, but they haven’t had sex … yet.


Both can be moody, especially Arvy who often feels like she doesn’t fit in.


When Thea gets a midnight call from her boyfriend asking her to come over, Arvy doesn’t want her to leave.


So, she stays and they end up sharing a bottle of vodka and making a blood oath.


But, to Arvy’s dismay, Thea has been hiding a secret, one that threatens to derail their friendship.


Meanwhile, someone or, perhaps, more than one person keeps knocking on the door to Thea’s place, where they are staying, spooking the girls.


The knocks become louder and more persistent and frightening, accompanied by calls to be let in.

Writer and director Zadie Kennedy McCracken wrote You’re Being Dramatic over three years.


In the program notes, she says she constructed it for her friends, for teenage girls, for dykes and addicts, and anyone who has ever felt out of place in their own body.


She also composed it for her fifteen-year-old self.


So, she has reached back through time to tell that person she is not alone.


You’re Being Dramatic explores intimacy, queer identity, patriarchy and the agony of unfulfilled desire.

Love and loneliness, joy and heartbreak are bedfellows in what unfolds through a series of vignettes, many of them short and sharp, some lasting mere seconds.


As I see it, the play is about finding your place … navigating your way and determining where you fit into the world, at least in your small patch of it.


McCracken readily captures the blush of youth, complete with its silliness and bold pronouncements, as reflected well by the two actors.


Mind you, the all too frequent scene changes between bedroom and bar, with music stings and blackouts in between, became wearing.


I thought the piece could readily have been reconstituted with longer interactions before switches and tightened overall without losing impact.


While the sound design by Ben Andrews and lighting design by Oliver Ross are evocative, I had an issue with some of the pub scenes.


I say that because at times the bar noise all but drowned out part of what Arvy, in particular, was saying.


Overall, the patter between she and Thea is often delivered at speed.


In the hotel scenes, when Arvy was imparting her monologues, either she needed to speak up and project more or the sound mix required addressing.


Still, the staging (the set design is by Ella Campbell) is alluring. When you enter the theatre, both actors are already in place.


Thea is lying between the sheets on a large bed (in fact, two singles put together), clutching a fluffy toy rabbit and playing on her phone.


Arvy is sitting at a small table, a glass of water and a tall glass of Coca Cola in front of her.


Surrounding them, on the floor, are scattered dozens of lit candles, their warm glow creating quite an impact.


White transparent netting links Arvy to an empty bar stool and taller table a short distance away. On it is a glass of water and a half full glass of white wine.


The action to follow goes down in those three “stations”, apart from when Arvy decides to take a stand against their would-be interlopers.


You’re Being Dramatic is a reflection on how life moves on, how perceptions shift and on the nature of friendships and maturation.


It is imbued with humour and heart, frustration and longing. I dare say many will relate to the course of their own lives.

Ninety minutes without interval, it is on at Theatre Works’ Explosives Factory until 4th May, 2024.


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