Like a Virgin

Like a Virgin has an intriguing concept, promising bubble-gum pop and teen rites of passage. Best friends Angela and Maxine dream of stardom and want to form a band. They are obsessed with Madonna, with boys and with the sexual positions featured in their favourite magazine. Unfortunately this production suffers from a heavily abridged script.

Unfortunately this production suffers from a heavily abridged script.

Reducing the show significantly from its original play time means the actors do not have enough space to achieve the emotional truth needed to move the audience, although the actors do try their best.

Allegra Henderson warms into her role as Angela, and is strong in the concluding scenes. Doubling as Ken and the mute bandmate Monkey, Peter Marsh demonstrates good flexibility. Bea Straker gives a nuanced performance as Angela’s mother Viv and presents a character whose flaws we can identify with. Both Straker and Marsh do well playing roles older than their age. Lucy Collins shines as the effervescent Maxine, with her thick, orange pancake makeup and utter conviction in her attractiveness and talent. The relationship between Angela and Maxine is portrayed with tender humour on both page and stage, but the good work of the actors cannot make up for the gaps in the story that we as audience are left to fill. Too often, we are uncertain about how much time has passed, with some scenes taking place a day later and others months. In one scene with a microphone placed on stage, it was unclear whether the aspiring band was at a performance venue or in rehearsal.

The space presents some challenges, requiring the cast to use the entrance to the studio in lieu of wings to a backstage area. In addition, set changes need streamlining to avoid breaking the momentum of the piece.

The reason for the play’s title becomes clear towards the end; I can imagine the potential for this work when presented in its entirety, but this cut-down version didn’t succeed in drawing me in. 

Reviews by Emma Gibson

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

A romp through the bubble gum years of teenage life. Angela and Maxine, besotted with Madonna, play truant from school, form a band and live out their dreams of becoming famous. Meanwhile Angela's mother, Viv, struggles to come to terms with her marriage break-up and her daughter's explosive lifestyle, as the play roller coasters through hope, sex, ambition, despair and, most of all, love.

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