Thomas Howells reviews Es & Flo by Jennifer Lunn at Wales Millennium Centre starring Doreene Blackstock and Liz Crowther.
Es & Flo is nothing short of incredible. Having the platform to write this review is a privilege. This beautiful and yet so tear-jerking performance with messages of feminism, family and freedom of love is wholly powerful. At the same time, it is also informative about different life experiences and aspects in the LGBTQ+ community. Truly, one of the greatest things to hit the stage in recent (and distant!) years.
The set is immersive, its naturalistic style just reminds the audience that these experiences are real ones – and all the little details building it up, helps us know the characters before we’ve even seen them. You can really get a sense of how much care went into every aspect of this production. This is shown in the lighting which creates this perfect sense of intimacy when needed, it portrays emotions as lighting can always do, but it also manages to portray the relationships while never taking away from the natural feel.
Every piece of Jennifer Lunn’s dialogue has heart and passion. The tone of the play is so well put together, it becomes just an insane rollercoaster of emotions where you laugh and cry. It’s as if you’re part of the loving, beautiful community each character builds across the play. Now naturally, the delivery of these lines would be lacking without the purely incredible performance of each actor.
Honestly I love small casts. Peacock, Falsettos and now Es & Flo doing it so incredibly well. My personal favourite character was Beata, performed by Adrianna Pavlovska. The dynamic she has with Es and Flo is really incredibly well done, I especially love seeing how her friendship with Flo develops. I don’t know how to describe it besides that I think Pavlovska really understands her character and that benefited so much in just bringing the entire play together.
But what would Es & Flo be without Es and Flo? Doreene Blackstock and Liz Crowther portray the couple beautifully. The relationship feels perfect from the start, but by the end it somehow felt like they managed to get even closer and stronger as they overcame challenges while gaining a better understanding of each other. It clearly shows the challenges queer couples face even today, especially when it comes to mature relationships.
But still, the character portrayed by Michelle McTernan, Catherine sort of manifests the challenges of LGBT couples into one character – while also providing commentary on the different forms of abuse that can appear in all relationships, though I don’t want to spoil any of that.
It would feel remiss to not acknowledge the tragedy in the crew, the loss of Company Stage Manager Antonia Collins. A truly incredible talent whose work will continue to inspire and set the perfect example for decades to come. Without her influence, this play would not have been the same.
I can’t say anything besides go see Es & Flo. Watching it is just an incredible experience for anybody, with so much messaging packed in a cohesive and powerful story. It’s a high quality production of which every actor brings so much.
Es & Flo continues at Wales Millennium Centre until May 13. Visit the website for ticket availability.