EFR - Reviews of Making It!

Making It!

Thu 31st July – Mon 25th August 2014

reviews

Anna Grace Symington

at 20:53 on 5th Aug 2014

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This is Davina Leonard's one-woman show about making at as an actress. Leonard is fun, witty and engaging in the roll of Jess, an acting school graduate who is working in a coffee show while she attends countless auditions.

Although the "it's not all red carpets and cocktail parties being an actress" is a well-worn tale by now, Leonard brings originality and freshens to this genre. The plot is a frustrating one. The less than glamorous side of the acting coin is revealed through the series of increasingly demeaning parts that Jess goes up for. The bleakness of this is made bearable for the audience by Jess' resilience and up-beat attitude. Despite having a serious plot line, the piece as a whole is light-hearted and amusing.

Other than Jess, Leonard features as Pilar and Bronwyn. Pilar is a sassy Spanish woman who wants to break the stereotype and play a more mundane role. She is continually getting in Jess' way. Leonard's portrayal of her is fantastically funny. Bronwyn is a jumped up Australian woman who is far too fond of herself for her own good. This character is an excellent addition to an already very comic piece. She is unbearably irritating and somehow always come out above Jess. This is something most audiences can relate to and creates a bond between them and Jess in unanimous disapproval of Bronwyn.

The show is ultimately a success due to Leonard's portrayal of Jess. Jess is fun and likable and Leonard, as Jess, seemed to really enjoy herself on stage. This enjoyment is infectious and the audience catch it quickly and keep hold of it throughout the show. The informality of the performance, with apparent errors in the sound and lightening and breaks of character to say something to the audience, is all part of the relaxing atmosphere Leonard creates.

The play is showing in Assembly: The Box from 14:00 - 15:00 every day until 26th August (with the exception of the 18th). It makes an excellent post-lunch viewing, ideal for inspiring pleasant digestion as your stomach contracts rhythmically with laughter.

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Xavier Greenwood

at 23:41 on 5th Aug 2014

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It could be said that ‘Making It!’ was a life-changing experience, insofar as I had never previously imagined that any artistic performance containing ‘When I Grow Up’ by The Pussycat Dolls could provide me with any iota of joy. A one-woman comedy drama written and performed by Davina Leonard, ‘Making It!’ is an excellently performed evocation of vanity and exploitation within the acting world, with more than a hint of Ricky Gervais’ 'Extras' about it.

A one-woman show is a difficult task, not least when the story contains multiple characters, and not least when the characters inhabit the same world of the actress. The menagerie of caricatures include: Bronwyn, an Australian ‘viral’ star, who repeats ad nauseam that “everyone loves an Australian”; Pilar Hernandez, a Spanish telenovela actress with a chip on her shoulder, who thinks that everything “is too easy”; Pauline, an outspoken Northerner, who refers to herself as an “additional actress” rather than an extra.

Amid all these larger-than-life wannabes is Jess, a self-conscious failing actress who must endure being degraded in various different settings, all for the sake of stardom.

After a slow start containing a monologue from Jess, the show really came into its own when Leonard began to voice other people; her talent for accents and ability to alter her facial expression accordingly made each new character clearly distinguishable from the last. For all the hilariously hyperbolic vanity of the budding actresses whom she voices, they all elicit varying degrees of pathos. It soon becomes clear that the world of acting is a cruel place for an actor, but a crueller place for an actress. This, however, is nothing compared to the pity which Jess’s experiences arouse, as she is recurrently chewed up and spat out, and then – in return for what could be her breakthrough – is given an offer which would potentially compromise any dignity she has left.

For all of Jess’s meekness, Leonard herself is entirely self-assured in the many roles which she assumes, fashioning a convincing cast from herself alone.‘Making It!’ is a one-woman gem, giving a poignant but spirited glimpse into the life of females in the acting profession.

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