Zoe Bowman

at 09:20 on 21st Aug 2016

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I Know A Guy Productions' performance of 'The Point' by John Stuart offers the audience a look into the lives of three prostitutes living and working in Glasgow. The performance begins with Cindy (Rebecca Burton), Amber (Dionne Frati) and Chargo (Jennifer McErlane) sauntering confidently onto the stage with indisputable presence and power. What follows is a devastating insight into the world of prostitution, as the initial vigour and confidence in all three characters dwindles. What is left is a performance guaranteed to have an impact on audiences.

To begin with, we are given a short background of each character. We are presented with Cindy, a seemingly coldhearted woman whom Burton brings to life with a mixture of crude comic delivery and heartbreaking emotion. As Amber, Frati successfully portrays the troubled mother figure of the trio, intent on sheltering the young Chargo from the perils of prostitution. Whilst Stuart should be commended for his in-depth characterization of all three of these individuals, it is McErlane's portrayal that stands out in this production. As the young and naive Chargo, she takes the audience on a whirlwind of emotion with a depiction of the "pavement princess" that is very difficult to put behind you. As a group, these three deliver a collective performance that is both fervent and emotive.

The audio and visual aspects of 'The Point' are used to great effect; both the style of music played and the costumes worn by the characters create a distinctly eighties feel to the performance. In a less superficial sense, these vibrant features do much more by creating contrast within the performance; the upbeat pop music and colourful outfits provide a conflicting backdrop to the themes of drug use and violence, drawing light to idea that we, as a society, fail to understand the full extent of the complexity of prostitution.

If you're looking for a comedy show at the Fringe this summer, then perhaps 'The Point' is not for you. Whilst in the beginning our three heroines appear to have both quick wits and sharp senses of humour, we soon learn the complex nature of their lives beneath their own exteriors. The talent of Burton, Frati and McErlane combined with the work of director Watt and writer Stuart makes for an unforgettable, emotional and extremely important production.

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Nina Klaff

at 11:50 on 21st Aug 2016

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The Waitresses’ catchy ‘I Know What Boys Like’ clearly places this depiction of the lives of three sex workers in the 1980s. The characters describe turning tricks at ‘The Point’ in unconventional water-cooler conversations, soliloquies, and asides. They strut and pose on a versatile black stage to the tune, allowing us to familiarize ourselves with them like a title sequence of a cheesy TV show. The friendship between Chargo, Amber, and Cindy is an examination of prostitution dealing in synecdoches and stereotypes. Their costumes are obvious - perhaps unnecessarily so – signals of their profession, in a predictability that is one of the only shortcomings of the production.

Rebecca Burton’s Cindy, a hardened yet subtly soft drug addict with a troubled childhood, is irresistibly loveable and infinitely wise. She blames drugs for her pallid and sullen appearance, dubbing smack "the best pimp in the world" in just one of many memorably cutting lines of the play. John Stuart’s writing is remarkably strong if a little clichéd, reminding us that "it’s a cold world and you have to learn how to keep warm." Burton’s delivery is outstanding: deadened eyes pierce straight through all of us as she hunches and shrugs her way through her monologue in a natural, yet accurately characterised way, unwaveringly defiant as she promises to quit it all by the first of January 1990.

Chargo, a clean seventeen-year-old, is just starting out, presenting us with a different, albeit connected, facet of the oldest profession in the world. Jennifer McErlane’s portrayal is unsettlingly realistic: from gyrating against a table and turning a trick, to throwing herself on the ground as she recounts being beaten by her beloved Franco, her performance is harrowing. Her faultless Irish accent is undeterred even by badly stifled heckling from the back row.

Dionne Frati’s Amber negotiates between Cindy’s resistance and Chargo’s naivety as a warm maternal figure, whose caring and loving nature unwittingly does more harm than good. Their consistent blaming of men for all that is wrong is at times a little forced, perhaps in an attempt to justify the gender of an all-male production team. However, this is redeemed by the heartbreakingly cold atmosphere, created by the women as they swig from half-empty bottles of Frosty Jack's.

'The Point' condemns the sad dynamic of a world in which – if you'll excuse the paraphrasing - people are created to be loved, things are created to be used, but things are being loved and people being used. Fiery protagonists and a heart-wrenching message warm this icy criticism of capitalism and the human condition.

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