Where the Crow Flies

Reviewer's Rating

Lisa Nicoll’s new two-woman drama is simple and sharp. Carrie’s husband is in jail, her newborn is teething, and everyone in her neighbourhood is spraying offensive slogans on the walls of her council house. It’s no surprise that when Emily (played by Darcy) moves in next door, she’s not welcome. Carrie thinks she’s in on the conspiracy of persecution. Emily is a busybody with secrets of her own and a knack for saying the wrong thing. The question at the heart of this story is, can two people who are both hurting learn to trust again? The play teases out difficult, touching, answers to this question.

One side of the stage is Emily’s home, a washing line, a few plants and a pile of boxes she rearranges and counts obsessively. To the left is Carrie’s place. Rubbish fills the garden, the ironing board is overflowing with messy clothes. Malcolm Regan’s lighting enables subtle shifts between interior and exterior (using the same set). Graffiti is projected onto the walls between each scene, each message getting more personal than the one before. The sound of crows interrupts the women’s conversations and the locals even dump dead birds in Carrie’s garden.

The play is inspired by stories and interviews with women in Blackburn, West Lothian, about being life as the wife of an offender. I often wonder whether the tag ‘based on a true story’ really adds authenticity to a narrative. In this case I think it does. The script is on point (even if Carrie’s paranoia is a little heavy handed at times) and creates strong characters without giving away too much. The important unsaid issues bubble at the surface and Nicoll resists the urge to give us a big reveal. Instead we get a far more subtle insight into the two characters and their unstable friendship. Despite the difficult subject matter the play is quite funny and features arguments about a deluxe paddling pool as well as other, more understated jokes. Lucchesi and Darcy are evenly matched as two very different characters and both deliver strong performances. Although Where the Crow Flies has finished its tour it is sure to back and is well worth seeing.