TRH Review: Some Girl(s)

TRH Review: Some Girl(s)

Originally published on The Reviews Hub

Awarded 3.5 stars – Cleverly interpreted

Men. Most of the time we are a fairly idiotic gender. We bumble through life, often not thinking about much other than the next girlfriend, the next beer, the next sports match. We don’t mean to hurt the feelings of those we love, it’s simply that most of the time we don’t even realise we are affecting anyone around us. Self-centred yet somewhat affable by nature.

That’s a flippant generalisation, of course, but this is the character that Neil LaBute centres upon in his 2005 comedy-cum-sitcom Some Girl(s). The Guy in question doesn’t get a name, doesn’t deserve an identity. Charles Dorfman is simply another man, one who looks inwardly at his own feelings so often that he doesn’t require defining any further than the generic. As he travels across the USA, having ‘meaningful’ conversations with his ex-girlfriends to ensure no hard feelings before his big wedding day, his true goal is to give himself closure. That, or confirm that he won’t suffer from “The One That Got Away” syndrome, as final girl Bobbi (Carley Stenson) is all too quick to point out.

LaBute’s script offers more of an insight into the female characters than to Guy himself. These women have all been left behind, discarded like used goods when Guy got cold feet, afraid of commitment and taking the easy way out instead. Somewhat scorned but moving on with their lives, these women are the ones that have the moral high ground throughout, a facet that is exploited through Gary Condes’ direction. More often than not Guy is forced to sit on a bed in a token hotel room and engage these women with puppy dog eyes, a helpless passenger as they slowly pick away at his tangled web of lies. Each actor finds the core strength within their female character and exploits it to full effect, whether it be Sam’s (Elly Condron) neuroses and restrained anger or Lindsay’s (Carolyn Backhouse) ice cold intellect that disarms Guy with a stare. Condes creates each scene with finely balanced precision, colourful and smiles on the outside whilst deep-rooted emotionally underneath.

It is easy to dismiss Dorfman as Guy – he simply plays an unaware, self-involved fool without any true empathy until the final scene. But Dorfman’s performance serves as a booster to the female cast, a springboard that allows them to go full out with their characterisation. None are more over the top than Tyler (Roxanne Pallett), the overtly sexualised play-toy that Guy uses to experiment with in his graduate years. Buoyant and bouncy, Pallett slips around the stage with pent-up frustration, a succubus that out-plays the player himself. But when it comes to control over Guy, it is Carolyn Backhouse that holds all the cards. An intellectual powerhouse, she reduces him to a snivelling, pathetic child with simply a look. Relentless with her questions, there is no escape from her cleverly concealed trap. He was her escape, her future, her tomorrow – and she wants payback.

A somewhat predictable twist in LaBute’s final scene dampens and diminishes what is overall a well-written, cleverly interpreted show. It’s a shame that this also tarnishes Stenson’s performance as Bobbi, who builds an intense final interaction, emotional and painful, her heart on her sleeve. Like it’s puzzle piece of a set (some clever design by PJ McEvoy to distinguish each interlinking scene), the audience gets to piece together the past lovers in Guy’s life. Finally, when he realises whom he wants, it’s too late – Some Girl(s)are just fed up of waiting.

Writer: Neil LaBute
Director: Gary Condes
Reviewer: Daniel Perks

Runs until 6 August 2016 | Image: Claire Bilyard