The RSC brings its second annual season of new work to London from Stratford, showcasing five British and American playwrights who focus on international themes. Debbie Tucker Green kicks off the season with a ten-day run of Trade, directed by Sacha Wares, which looks at the attitude of Western women towards other cultures, expressed through three distinct voices. Caroline Bishop went to the press night in the intimate surrounds of the Soho theatre…
For a 40-minute piece of dialogue, Debbie Tucker Green packs a lot into Trade. This short work performed by three women exudes a continual stream of issues. At the core is the fact that three women have had a sexual relationship with the same man, but each in a very different way. In a non-specific setting the trio talk about it and in doing so each reveals volumes about themselves and their attitudes, touching on class, age, culture, identity and women’s rights.
The three voices are: The Local (Lorna Brown), who lives in a non-specified country in the developing world where British tourists flock to for their fix of sun, sand and sex; The Novice (Nadine Marshall), a young, British woman brimming with attitude and unapologetically on holiday to do things she wouldn’t do at home, like a one-night stand; and The Regular (Tanya Moodie), an older, naïve British woman who idealises the country she regularly holidays in and buys a relationship there to cure her loneliness at home.
As the nature of each woman’s involvement with one man becomes apparent, each has to look at what her actions have led to and what it says about them. There are stark divisions between them all but also similarities that cross the divides in culture, age and class. In the end, each has to ask, who is f**king who and who is being f**ked?
Thought-provoking and funny, Trade asks how British women treat the country they visit on holiday, and how they treat themselves. Are many just looking to fill an emptiness at home with a quick-fix abroad? Are they really just trading themselves?
Trade runs until 25 March at the Soho theatre.