Best friends Pan (Prea Millar) and Lo (Tyler Clarke) drunkenly stumble into their ethereally decorated bedroom at 3:49am. Pan wakes hungover with mysterious bruises; she can’t remember getting home. When asked to fill the blanks, Lo refuses and distracts her friend with games of ‘the floor is lava’ and post apocalyptic YA novel rants.
The play alternates between these arguments in the bedroom and dreamlike sequences. Sometimes flashbacks to the party and sometimes Pan’s oracular dreams, the young women’ fall from reality each time is seamless. Pan’s hands rub the back of her neck and across her stomach in a numb, mechanical motion. With every dream-sequence, Pan became more and more distressed in her dance. I wanted to see the movement pushed further. The dream sequences needed greater momentum to convey the ragdoll-like choreography.
Although their voices were drowned out by the first scene’s party music, Millar and Clarke deliver big stage energy - sometimes too much energy. Pan wakes with a bolt and dramatically declares her hangover with wild gestures. Typically a blackout night is followed by groggy yawns and dehydration. Perhaps I’m showing my age here, and the relative ease in which a girl in her early twenties can shake a hangover. But consider me unconvinced. The unrealistic hangover expectations had almost the same energy as the boisterous entrance and took me out of the world Blue Productions built.
What really shines throughout the performance is the friendship between Pan and Lo.These women really are connected. I particularly enjoyed the moments between lines when the besties communicated through subtle changes in their expressions. Pan contradicts her “we’re ok” slogan with one sad look under her Euphoria-inspired eyeshadow.
The lighting design fills the bedroom with pink and blue. Orange shapes bubble across the stage during the lava games. The effect was nice but the lava lamp lighting was directed at the audience which made me feel super conscious of being seen, notebook and pen in hand. I felt someone kick the back of my chair when the lights came up. Were we supposed to play too?
From the title, we already know what happened to Pan before the walk home. Is Lo a bad friend for withholding information? Is it better to forget the cause of pain? Is Lo really protecting her friend? Despite Lo’s best effort, Pan’s body remembers and breaks out in panic attacks. These questions of ethics were the crux of the show and were brilliantly communicated through repetitive dialogue and a rising build in angst.
It was fantastic to see such a young and enthusiastic crowd supporting their peers at Should Have Said No’s opening night at BATS. The play’s blurb on the website states “This is for everyone who said she was asking for it, for everyone who asked her what she was wearing.” I couldn’t help thinking that the crowd attracted were already passionate about the #MeToo movement. The title might deter those who are overwhelmed by the topic.
Should Have Said No is a little rough around the edges, but nonetheless an endearing and layered performance promising laughs, drama and dance.
Catch Should Have Said No at BATS tonight at 7pm. Book tickets here.