EFR - Reviews of Girl From Nowhere

Girl From Nowhere

Wed 5th – Mon 31st August 2015

reviews

Rowena Henley

at 20:28 on 7th Aug 2015

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The Edinburgh Fringe is a festival saturated (perhaps overly so) with solo performances. However, the phrase ‘supporting cast’ really comes into its own when you consider the idea that these brave souls take on an audience without any kind of safety net: one wrong movement, one fluffed line, and the whole show could easily collapse. Yet for Victoria Rigby, the writer and performer of one-woman show ‘Girl From Nowhere’, this was simply not a problem.

Although the show began a little slowly, Rigby soon had the audience hooked. Rigby’s nervous movements, expressive eyes and stunning red hair quickly caught the audience in a kind of excitable stillness. Jeannie’s attention was on a small tape recorder that sat centre stage. We soon come to learn that this tape recorder, and us with it, will hear the story of how young girl from Coyote Creek, Texas tasted freedom and fame, only to be pulled back by forces greater than her.

From here on in the play was shrouded in mystery. Who was this tape being recorded for and what was its purpose? This mystery allowed the play to build to a climactic ending, revealing the secret behind this tape recorder and Jeannie’s reluctant return to her hometown.

It was immediately obvious that Rigby has a deep investment in the words she was reciting. Except for the very occasional slip from her Deep Southern accent, the acting was flawless. Even when dealing with the relentless complexities of adolescence (love, lust, loneliness) and the heart-wrenching description of sexual assault, Rigby was entirely in control and astoundingly believable.

Having learnt after the performance that she is the play’s author, my admiration for this artist multiplied threefold. Although Jeannie’s story followed a somewhat formulaic structure (young girl runs away from home, meets trouble along the way and is forced to learn from her mistakes), the writing itself was compelling throughout and truly beautiful at moments.

Rigby has managed to master the art of explaining complicated emotions and situations in a poetry of simplicity. The marriage of Rigby’s words and performance made for an intensely captivating hour.

I enjoyed the rich feminist undertones of the performance, which explored the strengths and weaknesses of feminine allure and the antiquated prejudices faced by career-driven women in 1969 America.

Girl From Nowhere is well worth a watch this Fringe, not only for the absorbing events that unfold on stage, but also for the memorising style in which they are told. If you have come to the festival to see what talent the ‘new writing’ genre has to offer, then this is the perfect show for you.

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Ella Wilks-Harper

at 10:42 on 8th Aug 2015

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Set in 1969, Texas, this one person show revolves around a young woman’s musical journey from country music backing vocalist to a rebellious free-spirited lead singer of a rock band.

Although the play is slow to begin with, the audience are immediately made aware that her career might not be going as well as first thought. Set in the protagonist’s parent’s house, a place where she is continuously told to be quiet, Jeannie records herself on a cassette player and reveals her recent musical adventures.

Through the incorporation of songs, Victoria Rigby’s portrayal of Jeannie was impressive not only for her consistent southern accent but also her soulful vocals. Each song gave a particular significance to each stage in Jeannie’s musical career as she escapes the confinements of her country-singer boyfriend, Eliot, who upholds the traditional values of marriage.

Moments of comedy really lifted the show, including a scene in which Jeannie recollects the monotonous nature of being a backing singer. However, more comical moments are needed in order to relieve the audience from the intensity of Jeannie’s home life and bring greater significance to later scenes.

With the repetitive warning to keep quiet, the audience really get a feel of how oppressive life at your parents’ house can be once you have had a taste of freedom. This will be familiar for any students in the audience who having come home after university, who will also find the same old rules still applying!

The poignancy of Jeannie’s character lies in the sense of urgency reflected in her agitated gestures towards the cassette player. The tape is continuously turned on and off as Jeannie ensures that the aspects of her confession are delivered to perfection. It is only towards the end of the play that Jeannie reveals who will listen back which is a particularly well-executed revelation.

This play is a pleasure to watch, especially if you are interested in sixties American culture. Although the storyline is fairly contrived, it is clear that Rigby is a true talent.

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