Abbie (Alexandra Proudfoot) and Zoe (Grace Hudson) have been friends for almost their whole lives. Now, Abbie is helping her best friend go through a major heartbreak, even if it means having her third-wheeling on sexual escapades while crashing the sofa. Written by Georgia Green and directed by both herself and Frankie Jolly, female-led Watermelon takes a glance into female friendship with a hilarious and sardonic eye.
After a first-hand peek at the intimate and private world the two women inhabit, it’s time for an external object to be inserted: a man. Following a night out, Abbie (Proudfoot) decides to take Joe (Henry Taylor) home, he “seems really nice” but his awkwardness and clumsiness make Zoe (Hudson) uneasy.
Green doesn’t shy away from portraying the nitty gritty aspects of female friendship: unlike popular opinion, women do not sit around spending their time endlessly talking about men. UTIs and safe sex are discussed, and the always-present worry and awareness of male privilege and danger lurk beneath the surface. This is especially visible in Zoe (Hudson), whose reaction to Joe’s presence and his behaviour when Abbie (Proudfoot) disappears immediately become red lights. Upon recoiling when he screams, she is certain that he’s involved in the disappearance and is ready to stand up to him, albeit being terrified.
Even though the play focuses on women, Joe isn’t spared emotional scarring, despite being more subtle and only treated in passing. Whereas Zoe’s trauma stems from her relationships with men as a woman, Joe’s is the subject of other men’s bullying from a male’s perspective. His PTSD-like answer at being called an idiot by Zoe is a hint to a more complex character who would be worth exploring, but which simply isn’t the focus of the show.
Green’s approach is fresh and comical, a side never lost even in the more worrisome moments; she manages to create a light and yet profound piece, hardly slipping into clichés or farcical representations. Proudfoot and Hudson are hilarious in the late-night grandeur of two young women trying to find themselves in the 21st century.
“Your relationship is pretty intense, you’re almost like a couple” Joe points out when faced with their co-dependance and pure love. That’s the whole essence of Watermelon – two friends on opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to men, but who find solace and shelter in each other’s company.
Watermelon played the Hen and Chickens until 6 August 2017. For more information or to purchase tickets for other shows in the Camden Fringe, click here.