EFR - Reviews of Dating George Orwell

Dating George Orwell

Thu 2nd – Sat 18th August 2012

reviews

Hannah Buckley

at 09:20 on 3rd Aug 2012

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I’m not the greatest fan of one-person shows, and so I thought this play would be a challenge to enjoy. However, I was proved wrong. Kelly Jones, the writer and actress of this extended monologue, is a very clever and very talented lady.

The show tells the story of Pauline Duffy as she reminisces over her struggle through teenage years; dealing with school life, her parent’s divorce, and her sexual development. Jones’ talent for writing oozes out of the script. There are dark humorous twists on things which should be sad, ranging from her rant on libraries being ‘literature brothels’ to her disappointment in being interrupted during her ‘nightly sniff and stroke-athon’. There were plenty of laughs from the audience throughout. Jones also did well to keep the show fresh. Her ability to switch character very quickly and her use of props really made the story telling engaging and easy to follow.

Although the play was very good, it did take a while to start. I didn’t really understand the need to move parts of the stage around at the beginning, but there were some audience members who found it quite humorous. If you do see this play, don’t sit at the back. The venue wasn’t the easiest to perform for Jones, both in terms of being able to see and hear her. There was quite a lot of background noise that could be heard from the bar when you sat at the back, which was distracting at times and a bit of a shame for Jones.

However, the great timing for the jokes, the brilliant acting and clarity of Jones’ storytelling makes these criticisms only small things to note. It really was an interesting and provoking play to watch, which had a great plot and ideas to mull over long after the play finished.

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Natasha Tabani

at 09:51 on 3rd Aug 2012

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We are all squished into the cosy back-room of The White Horse pub with just a curtain separating us from the regular customers. The atmosphere is warm and inviting; instead of a typical stage, a few chairs and tables have been pushed to the sides to make way for the act. There are comfy sofa-seats and low lighting. The floor is scattered with books and boxes painted to look like bookcases. Amidst these, an awkward, hunched girl named Pauline Duffy (Kelly Jones) shuffles back and forth. She is dressed eccentrically, to say the least. A garish bubblegum-pink satin dress is coupled with oversized glasses and a nervous disposition to create a kind of female, teenagery character who is (oddly) somewhat reminiscent of Woody Allen. She picks up a book, hugs it tightly, and begins to sing an eerie rendition of 'Happy Birthday'.

What ensues is too strange to recount here. Let's just say it involves an unhealthy obsession with books (their touch, smell, taste and more), a poignant and eccentric tale and many highly awkward moments that give rise to simultaneously nervous and genuine laughter. The tone of the piece oscillates between dark, awkward and comical with great technical precision – I went very quickly from shuffling and squirming in my seat to bursting into fits of giggles, and back again. There are also many amusing analogies – libraries, for instance, are dubbed “Literature Brothels”, and librarians in their turn become “the pimps of the book world”.

Dating George Orwell is a one-woman show, written and performed by Kelly Jones. It is extremely difficult for a single actor to engage an audience for an entire production, but Jones' character is very well executed. She manages to be both childish and spinsterish, both borderline psychotic and somehow still accessible and endearing. I for one found myself empathizing with her retreat into the worlds of books and love of fictional characters and remote authors as an escape from the confusion of teenage life. The use of props is also excellent (though I did end up feeling very sorry for the poor books!). Though the acting was great, it could have been a little more consistent (certain parts of the performance seemed to work better than others), and, though it is not at all the fault of the performer, the constant hubbub of the room next door made it difficult to engage completely with the performance. It is a 40 minute production; short and sweet. Anyone with a spare hour or so in the afternoon who loves books and doesn't mind cringey comedy would greatly enjoy this bizarre and bittersweet performance.

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Comments

Matthew Reynolds; 16th Aug 2012; 22:11:32

***** As the sole female character shuffles chairs about in near-silence, one could expect this show to be yet another absurdist farce, but this is just the perfect set up for a fascinatingly disturbed character, so alone she sings Happy Birthday to herself. After this tense opening she rewinds back to her first book and carries us through her illicit literary love affairs along with the usual teenage troubles. With her witty narration to the audience breaking up each episode, the play never lags. The vivid description, bordering on poetic, brings a host of characters and situations alive. The most striking scene featured a cheap magazine as a tool for self-pleasure. Her derriding of this incident as a cheap fling is a humorous swipe at our own more conventional relationships. A confident and highly original performance.

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