They pass unnoticed by the mums with buggies and frothy coffees, and the city which hums around them or erupts with the violence of splintering glass. But when they come together for one blissful week, the future is full of possibilities. Until it isn’t.
Blis-ta, a story of female friendship on the edge, is a humdinger of an audio play written by the late Sonya Hale and brought to us by Clean Break, the brilliant and very necessary company which works with women with lived experience of the criminal justice system. Clean Break has nurtured some startling talents and over the years has been a significant commissioner of new plays by women writers.
Ambreen Razia recording Blis-ta.
This is not Radio 4 afternoon play territory. Not remotely. Hale’s dialogue crackles and fizzes with a gleeful, rude rumbustiousness that is positively Shakespearian as the pair liberate food from the local Tesco and find a secret place where they spend a week swimming and sunbathing and dreaming of a life of unconfined freedom. But winter is coming, the damp creeps in and even as the pair are treating life as an adventure their options are narrowing and danger lurks.
There are moments of real joy in this 50 minute play but Hale and director Roisin McBrinn never sugar coat this relationship, the betrayals or the limited choices these young women have. At times it is brutal and all the more poignant because these women dream of something always just beyond their grasp, like trapeze artists with no safety nets. Razia and Zmitrowicz chomp on Hale’s rich language with evident pleasure and to mesmerising effect as this pitiless off kilter love story brings Cherry and Kat—society’s unseen—into vivid focus.
You can listen to Blis-ta online until Sat 31 July. Details here.