We arrive at ZOO Playground on the tail end of the golden hour. It’s deeply peaceful outside. A small truck sells drinks which we sip on cold, damp stone by the grass before lining up to take our seats.
It’s the last moment of peace we get for an hour. Butterflies launches straight into the frenetic, high-emotion world of three young women monologuing on love and social media.
The interweaving of the three women’s plots is reflected in the clothes that cross from body to body. Shannon (Milly Roberts) casually pulls on a jacket on her way out to see her boyfriend; later, Frankie (Georgia Bishop) tries the same jacket wincingly, telling us her grandmother bought it as a present. The set is perfect – I wonder if details like the on-trend Sally Rooney novel or the vintage clothes hanging on the rail have been taken from cast members’ rooms.
The LGBTQ+ element in this comes from Frankie, who definitely (definitely!) still likes boys. Maybe. She is uncertain even as she lights up at a message from her female Tinder match and rolls her eyes at her boyfriend Jack’s texts. This need to convince herself of some lingering attraction to men will ring true for many women who now identify as lesbians.
The acting is great, with each character worming their way into our hearts. Their delivery deftly weaves together three narratives so that although the characters never interact, their stories peak and trough in harmony.
There are points where the combination of the stories doesn’t quite land right. As YouTube influencer Floss (Holly Hudson) deals with a gutting revenge porn plotline, it’s hard to feel that Frankie’s worries about stringing Jack along merit as much angst.
Angst is the core of this show: the loneliness of a young woman whose bedroom is connected to the world through a screen. Sometimes, it’s too much. I wish we had a moment to see the characters’ feelings before the monologue bursts through to tell us.
But the cast don’t flinch from the intensity of the self-loathing the characters feel when their plans break down. These young, passionate women are charmingly sweet to share an hour with, but sweeter still is the sense of relief when, for them, everything gets better in the morning.
Butterflies runs at Zoo Playground (V186) until 26th Aug – 20:05. Book now.
© A. Lewis 2019