The older-man-meets-younger-girl premise might have been done - and done well - with An Education, but with its delicate narrative, Nottingham New Theatre’s Queen B shows that there is more to explore on the topic.
The comic moments are few, but when they do occur they flow without effort.
We meet two characters: 19-year-old Amy, fresh from the loss of her father, and middle-aged Dan. Despite their unconventional meeting, they begin to spend more time together, gradually lessening their loneliness and regaining confidence. They interact with each other and speak directly to the audience.
It is delicately done. Nick Barker is remarkably believable in his role. The soft tone of his voice in particular seems perfectly fitting with his character. Laura Gallop as the spirited and sensitive Amy originally seems to slightly overplay her character’s youth. The character in question is 19, but seems a lot younger in Gallop’s hands, but perhaps this is purposeful, considering Amy’s history. One thing I was struck by throughout the production was the attention to detail. Gallop, in her portrayal of Amy, wears ankle socks. This small element is hugely effective in convincing the audience of her youth, much more so than bare feet would have done.
The set is simple but charming: a black and yellow wooden model of a tree, complete with a wire mesh top and blue and white blinking fairy lights. It is imaginative and animated, almost childlike in its construction.
The script itself is incredibly natural. The comic moments are few, but when they do occur they flow without effort. There were moments when I feared the production would lean into cliché, but as the performance progresses and more is uncovered, what begins as a story of an older man and a younger girl moves into something entirely different and much more memorable.
Queen B is sweet, touching and heart-lifting story with two engaging performances.