KATIE/MAG begins with a smartly-dressed young woman, laden down with shopping bags frantically pacing the floor. As she forces herself to carry out simple instructions – “Put down the bags. Slowly.”, “Ask for a glass of water.” we get the feeling that something has gone badly wrong.
Over the next hour the young woman, Katie (Amy O’Dwyer) walks us though her life, with help and prompts from Mags (Kelly McAuley), who played a vital role in it. We begin with Katie as a babe in arms and works our way forwards to the harrassed woman at the beginning of the play. As the play zips us past various moments, we see Katie at an unsure four year old, an easily embarrassed 13 year old and moody, rebellious 17 year old. The two actresses inhabit each moment beautifully. They transform fluidly into the different characters. O’Dwyer shows us Katie at all the different ages and moods while McAuley plays all the supporting characters – from the worried Mam to the boring lecturer and lots more inbetween. Often she manages to convey Mags attitude towards these people while she is bringing them to life.
The play gives you a brief snapshot of what’s it’s like to dumped by your best friend in primary school, or to finally start university and discover exactly how far the reality is from your expectations. These snapshots are so true and so well-realised that they leave you reeling with the remembrance of your own adolescent.
The play focuses on the close relationship between Katie and Mags but it also says a lot about women’s relationships with food, sex and ambition. None of these relationships are particularly healthy, but neither is Katie and Mags. And it only grows more destructive as the years go on.
Jennifer Rogers enjoyable script is really brought to life by the wonderful performances by the two actors. This tight two-hander asks a lot of it’s performers and they definitely deliver the goods. The set and props are kept minimal so that the focus is on the actors. They bring emotion and great story-telling to the piece, which is both funny and moving.
It’s great to see women’s stories being told on stage, especially when it is done this well.