In Little Gem, three generations of Dublin women with overlapping but very different
lives are the subject of actress turned playwright Elaine Murphy’s first
play, a trio of interlocked monologues simply staged with a scattering of
projected images and a chair for each actress to sit on.

Amber has just finished school, likes a good time and has an unreliable
boyfriend with a wandering eye. Her dowdy mother Lorraine might just be
heading for a breakdown, with her compulsive urges to tidy and clean
overflowing disastrously into her job as a shop assistant.

Seated in the
centre is Lorraine’s own mother, sixty-something Kay, still devoted to her husband
of over forty years, but with an itch that he can no longer satisfy since
his stroke. Her determinedly cheerful face tells both of a lifetime of
happiness with the man she loves and of sadness at the changes his illness
has brought about.

In the course of a year, there’s a birth and a death and quite a bit of sex.
Amber is forced to grow up, Lorraine lets her hair down and finds romance in
the most unlikely place (as well as finally completely freeing herself of
all attachment to the junkie ex-husband who left her to bring up their
daughter alone) and Kay goes shopping for a Rampant Rabbit (though she
chickens out and settles for a smaller green model instead).

It’s a tender, funny slice of everyday life with engaging performances from
all three women – Sarah Green’s Amber coming to terms with new
responsibility, Amelia Crowley’s Lorraine admitting to herself that tidying
up isn’t necessarily the route to fulfilment and, best of all, Anita Reeves’
indomitable Kay ensuring that this heart-warming production definitely lives
up to its name.


Bush Theatre, Shepherds Bush Green, W12 8QD (Shepherds Bush tube) (020 8743
5050) till 22nd May (£20 {Saturday matinees

Louise Kingsley