The opening act of The Wasp establishes the most intriguing meeting between two disparate characters. Sat in the outside area of a coffee shop Carla is pregnant, chain-smoking, not looking like she particularly wants to be there. Heather arrives, holding a latte, all smiles and keen to remind Carla of how they had been school friends once which given their differences as adults seems an unlikely pairing. Carla is keen to know why Heather has arranged this meeting after all this time and Heather is slow to explain which gives us time to get to know these characters and gain a glimpse into their past friendship and their different remembrance of it. In a moment of shared connection when talking about the men in their life, in which we realise that the characters may have a shared deviousness.
Both the characters are engagingly layered and excellently acted by Rea Mole and Lucy Pickles respectively. There is a preposition that would test the remit of anyone’s moral compass and as the story develops a twist that you only see coming as the action unfolds on stage. It completely changes the dynamic for the second half of the play.
The breakdown in the character of Heather as some of those layers are carefully unravelled and we get a glimpse into a hitherto unseen aspect of her character is fantastic and portrayed perfectly by Lucy Pickles. Her recalling her reality of what their friendship was like during their school years is haunting. Yet the second half of the play doesn’t carry the same weight as the first half. It feels just a little too drawn out. Yet the tension is expertly brought in and raised in the final moments as we conclude on a moment that we couldn’t have seen coming when we met these characters in a coffee shop.
With a great set, actors and an intriguing premise, it’s a shame some of the tension gets lost between the plot twist and conclusion.