Stef Smith’s writing is exceptional, but Enough needs more of a kick to get it from the page to the stage. Maggie Kelly reviews:

Stef Smith’s Enough is a poetic and political analysis of the aesthetic performances we wear. It’s all blue plastic, red shiny lipstick, wide smiles through gritted teeth. The rhythm of the language, the repetitions, the straight lines and shallow cleanliness of the set all feel like an attempt to impose control on a situation that’s slowly dissolving, crumbling away into the cracks.

Enough Traverse Theatre
Amanda Wright & Louise Ludgate (image courtesy of Lara Cappelli)

Jane (Louise Ludgate) and Toni (Amanda Wright) are both air stewardesses – meticulous, precise, groomed to perfection. When they walk into a room, there is an imperceptible shift in the air. These are women that can be trusted; these are women that are sexy but not too sexy; these are women that are the very image of responsibility and respect.

Controlled and controllable… But the tight, well-cut blue uniforms of Enough seem to be one of the only things holding the people wearing them together.

Jane sometimes returns from a trip around the world – London, New York, Colombo, Mumbai – hugs her children, kisses her husband and then locks herself in the bathroom to cry her carefully-prepared mascara off her face. Her house – a huge, solid, purposeful symbol of all she’s achieved – is breaking apart at the seams.

Subsidence, she’s told.

Toni rings the doorbell of the man who hurts her and climbs into bed with him anyway, her desperation to be held trumping the shame she feels when his hands are around her neck.

Enough Traverse Theatre
Amanda Wright (image courtesy of Lara Cappelli)

Smith’s writing centres on about the firmaments and the sky, beautifully contrasting Bryony Shanahan’s direction about plastic and earth. A seemingly nylon curtain dissolves in front of audience eyes and the women stand looking at each other, desperation carved on their face before the blinding smiles switch back on.

Enough analyses an unhappiness that has no root or cause,

an unhappiness about limitations and freedom

and the things we willingly and unwillingly bind ourselves to as women.

Enough Traverse Theatre
Louise Ludgate (image courtesy of Lara Cappelli)

There are, however, points in Enough where both actors and audience seem to drown in Smith’s words. The beauty of these verbal images isn’t enough to sustain them to the point where they take hold within the minds of the audience.

Shanahan’s direction purposefully keeps a gap between stage and script – very little is shown, a lot is said. But it’s hard to ignore that this narrative, while enveloping in its textual beauty, has struggled to grow actual human legs. And with both actors being more vessels for words than actual characters, the cracks of their lives stay at a surface level.

★★★☆☆

Enough is now playing at Traverse Theatre until 25 August 2019. For more information or to buy tickets, please visit the festival website.