EFR - Reviews of Mod Girl

Mod Girl

Tue 7th – Sat 11th August 2012

reviews

Mel Melville

at 09:53 on 8th Aug 2012

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This is a play that instantly reminded me of the classic film 'Pretty Woman': one seemingly lonely man, a prostitute and the promise of money and sex. Partial nudity is to be expected. The play began with the young girl dressed in her slutty attire faced with her client - but this is no ordinary client. This is a man who appears to care for this girl trapped in the sex industry. He wishes to get to know her before they ‘settle the deal’. The plot advances as the characters soon reveal their past. The man, who we later find out is called JW, is obsessed with his dead wife and still wears the ring. He claims that she died of unnatural causes and so in the eyes of God the ring must stay put. They talk of religion and art and other such tosh whilst frequently swearing at one another in a rather endearing fashion. There are moments of romance interrupted by snippets of anger: this play certainly does not proceed towards a fairytale ending.

Despite the play mainly consisting of the man played by Jack Collard and the prostitute, Eleanor Porrill, Jemma Jeanes is a huge breath of fresh air. This character stumbles across the actors whilst working the streets and is described as a ‘hurricane of bad manners.’ That she was, but she was also a fantastic break from the slight monotony of the play. Jack Collard portrayed his character flawlessly, developing it through to the bitter end.

The scene changes were clumsy and painfully slow and a noise coming from an air conditioning device throughout was terribly distracting. This meant that the actors needed to be far louder to be easily heard. That said, the show is certainly intriguing and will shock you towards the end after being mildly captivating throughout. It’s worth a watch if you are into melodramatic theatre and fancy delving into a story that destroys your slowly developed hope. All in all, an interesting university production.

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Karl Dando

at 12:57 on 8th Aug 2012

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‘Mod Girl’ bills itself as a ‘reflective melodrama,’ and viewed through that prism the show seems more conceivably a success. Its stereotypical characters become realised as par for the course, and the rather bathetic gestures towards profundity are better appreciated as the exactly the kind of sentimentalism that the genre deals in by definition.

There is though a strange dissonance: the play speaks of itself as if it were doing something else. Midway through, in a scene clearly intended to have some weight, the Tart-With-A-Heart character ‘Candice’ shows her client a mural of the Virgin Mary, and they proceed to discuss dreams and art. The client, ‘JW,’ exclaims in mock-shock that "Most of the time you talk like a truck driver", and is impressed by her apparent sensitivity and articulacy. The problem is that she *hasn’t* been talking like a truck driver up to

this point. The problem is that, despite a meditative pace to the piece and a clear aesthetic of naturalism, if not realism, the dialogue speaks much more of the ‘melodrama’ that the advertising suggests. Candice speaks like someone who has very little idea of a truck driver. There is a strange primness to her words, only exacerbated by the tokenistic feel of every ‘cock’ or ‘w**ker’ that passes her lips. As a character she is sketched far too cautiously to be, by any realist standard, believable: the commitment of the production to a realistic style of acting sits awkwardly, like Candice on the edge of her seat in the chip shop set where JW asks her life story, constantly deploying the same petulant tics of movement in a desperate attempt to seem like a real person.

The show is almost entirely one long conversation between the prostitute and her client, bar one enthusiastic gatecrashing by a more senior working girl, who towers over the other two actors, stumbles about the stage, and spends a good deal of time rummaging pointlessly in her handbag. The dialogue retains that edge of awkard unbelievability with this character, but the sheer gusto of the performance pushes things along regardless. The standout performance is however Jack Collard as JW: his, as horribly clichéd a phrase as it is, quiet intensity nicely offsets both the other characters and the writing itself: if this piece is ‘reflective’ at all it is because of him. And, although I won’t spoil the end, the cool and critical disinterest with which he regards his fellow characters is understandable as analogous to the way he views the world: despite the style there is generally little like realism here, but there is perhaps a more modern truth if we take the piece as focused through JW's narrating mind. Watch this with that thought

and the clunky dialogue and stereotypical characterisations begin to make more sense.

More mundanely, the black-outs between scenes were often uncomfortably long, all the more so because they took place in complete silence, and throughout the performance a cooler at the back of the room hummed distractingly. Ultimately I am not sure ‘Mod Girl’ is particularly good – at its worst it feels amateurish and confused, at its best it seems to succeed despite itself – but I find myself wanting to recommend it anyway. There is something hypnotic in it.

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