There aren’t many plays with a cast of teenagers that are this slick. Some excellent tech and blocking make
The play thunders along at an impressive pace, but its 40 minute running time can sometimes feel a little slight
Jack (Christian Gateley) is an alcoholic policeman, and a poor drink-induced decision on the job leads to tragedy. Plagued by guilt and haunted by the girl whose death he feels responsible for, Jack seeks to find closure by turning his experiences into a film.
The team of writer-directors (Jonny McCausland, Tatiana Hardy and Livi Empson) have devised an innovative staging, seamlessly flicking between scenes and utilising every inch of the stage. The film set framing device is inspired, and leaves the audience questioning the boundaries between the real and the artificial. James Wilson’s tech delivers some horrific moments, none more so than the terrifying opening scene - you have been warned!
Sometimes, however, the staging has a tendency to go a little overboard. The duo of creepy girls that pranced around with Maya Burnand’s murder victim feels gratuitous, and a vertical bed to show Jack’s sleepless nights just ends up looking a bit silly. Elsewhere the lo-fi staging techniques go down a treat: a piece of cloth with holes for windows should look ridiculous as a car, but is actually just what the scene needs and works well with the old-school Hollywood aesthetic of the framing device.
The performances are credible given the cast’s youth, though the piece would benefit from a more intense performance from Gateley. Alex Bridges’ manipulative and melodramatic director also needs a touch more humour in his impassioned (and somewhat insensitive) search for cinematic potential in Jack’s trauma. Katherine Grigg, on the other hand, gives an excellent performance as Jack’s wife and ends up being the emotional core of the piece.
The play thunders along at an impressive pace, but its 40 minute running time can sometimes feel a little slight. Some of the best writing comes in moments of calm, such as the discussion of alcoholism after Jack’s fatal mistake. The rest of the time it can feel as if the play is rushing through the essentials of a story which has heaps of potential; the ending, though suitably scary, ends up feeling a little unsatisfying.
About a Girl is nonetheless a very impressive piece, and its catalogue of scare-inducing tricks remarkably effective. It’s a memorable story that works well as a thriller, though the writers and cast focus more on delivering a streamlined horror than fathoming the narrative’s emotional depths.