Eastern Angles latest play is powerful and moving

Eastern Angles have something of a reputation for cannily focusing on regional topics which nonetheless touch on universal themes. In Nicola Werenowska’s Guesthouse, the company uses the device of a struggling B&B in Clacton to explore the familial relationship between three generations of women to powerful and moving effect.

As grandmother, mother and daughter deal differently with the vicissitudes of life, the unseen men in their lives (though frequently the catalyst for the action) remain at the periphery of the action in this all female three hander. Amanda Bellamy, Claire Humphrey and Eleanor Jackson offer up a compelling and authentic portrait of women dealing with the consequences of the past, the decaying guesthouse they live in a constant reminder of what they once had, and what they cannot escape from. Excellent ensemble work from the cast, interposed with telling soliloquys that showcase their individual talents, and evocative found footage interludes, elevate a text that is in any case both pithy and nuanced.

While the narrative is occasionally diffuse, it is more often gripping, with subtle and layered writing that forces our sympathies to constantly flit between characters, as the grim truth of their circumstance is gradually revealed. This makes for challenging, and sometimes uncomfortable, viewing but the abiding message is one of reconciliation, redemption and, albeit tentatively, one of hope.

By David Vass