65 Days of Tracy the Marquis Mannequin

Serving in many ways as an exploration of grief, mental illness and the intricacies of the bond between mothers and daughters - all wrapped up in a one-woman show - 65 Days of Tracy the Marquis Mannequin may sound at first like an interesting proposition. Yet while the show (starring and written by Ginny Evans-Pollard) tackles its subject matter with incredible drive, it lacks the skill, restraint and technical prowess to successfully mine such fertile ground.

For the show to be dramatically engaging, we need to be given a deeper insight into the situation than we are ever offered.

One of the show’s main issues lies in the fact that despite purporting itself to be a comedy, it just isn’t funny. Evans-Pollard’s comedic style fails to connect in any way. This is due in part to the persona that the actor adopts while on stage – she regresses into a child-like state, where wearing a tutu and an elephant mask is the height of comedy. When this is put in juxtaposition with the bleakness of the play’s central issue, of Evans-Pollard dealing with the death of her mother, the result is that neither comedy nor grief hits home. While regression can at times become a way for the performer to find a purer means of expressing herself to the audience, here it muddles the more engaging aspects of the show. There is an instance in the play where the actor transitions from lying on stage crying, to caressing her mannequin using its own hands. Rather than creating an atmosphere of absurdity, this moment leaves you feeling confused from dramatic whiplash.

Visually the show is at times beautiful, despite minor technical hiccups. There is an arresting and visually unique moment, where Evans-Pollard paints herself, providing a startling image akin to self-harm. Yet such imagery isn’t enough to help the show overcome its issues – issues not helped by the lack of narrative. While early on, we are treated to interesting and at times moving descriptions of the moments leading up to the actor learning about her mother’s passing, this soon descends into chaos. The presence of the titular Tracy is used to little effect.

Serving in large part as a blank space for Evans-Pollard to project her conflicting emotions onto, the mannequin is little more than a disposable prop. More effort could have been made to add further characterisation to the mannequin in order to strengthen the depiction of relationships in the show. The result is that there’s little to emotionally or intellectually hang onto – we are never really given reason to empathise with what is happening on stage. Losing one’s mother is obviously an intense moment of one’s personal life, but for the show to be dramatically engaging, we need to be given a deeper insight into the situation than we are ever offered.

Reviews by Alexander Gillespie

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The Blurb

Transitioning from her old identity to a new one without her mum around, Ginny fights for survival in an emotional landscape, turning to her mannequin Tracy and art for comfort. Funny, quirky and thoughtful new theatre. 65 Days of Tracy the Marquis Mannequin, based on a true story about love, loss and moving on, is debuting at the Fringe 2015. Does the show mark the end of Tracy's journey, of the project documenting the loss of Ginny's mum?