In Leo Butler’s Juicy Fruits, old friends Nina and Lorna are catching up over coffee and cake after not having seen each other for six years. Lorna (Clare Waugh) has a 8-month old baby; Nina (Denise Hoey) is back from animal aid work in Borneo.
But as the two women share pleasantries over pastries, it soon comes to light that Nina has been forever changed by an experience in the jungle, and views Lorna’s comfortable life with a manic jealousy which threatens to make their newly-rekindled friendship burst into flames.
Butler shows a good ear for dialogue in Juicy Fruits, with Nina’s sharp retorts and blunt statements of fact giving an edgy Hoey a great deal to work with, and she steps into her character’s unpredictable role with a gripping performance. Lorna’s character is more of a foil to Nina’s, but Waugh does well nonetheless, shedding her yummy mummy demeanour as the piece progresses.
Once things play out in the cafe, the action moves back to Borneo; where Nina has returned to pick up her work with her boyfriend (Ben Winger). Here, things lose their way: what started off as a sharply-observed character piece turns into a dark thriller; and sadly the juxtaposition jars, with not enough sympathy having been generated for the audience to care too much about Nina’s plight.
Despite its faults however, Juicy Fruits contains enough zest in its acerbic script; and a peach of a performance from Hoey, that it still provides a lunchtime treat: but isn’t quite as ripe as it could have been.
Juicy Fruits runs at the Traverse until 29 October.