Pulp Fiction: The One Woman Play

Sat 4th – Sat 25th August 2018

reviews

Megan Denny

at 03:16 on 17th Aug 2018

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This show, believe it or not, really does do what it says on the tin. In her self-directed play, Niamh Watson re-enacts one of the most iconic films of all time, in its entirety – well, almost in its entirety. The boxing storyline is cut in Watson’s version, and consequently Vincent Vega emerges from the story alive; presumably a decision based on practicality considering that the performance is less than an hour long. The fact that I don’t notice this adaptation until I leave the theatre reflects Watson’s commanding stage presence, which captures the audience from the first dictionary definition of ‘pulp’.

Watson jumps from one classic character to another at a rapid pace, generally effectively but with some lapses in accent, which can be briefly confusing. Costumes aid the character transitions, but are minimal. Nevertheless, her command of the small theatre is enough to maintain her audience’s engagement.

I feel that the potential of the original movie soundtrack isn’t exploited quite as much as it could have been. However, the famous twist contest scene is included, in which Watson seamlessly dances as both Thurman and Travolta - an impressive feat in itself.

I find the most effective sections of the play to be the scene setting interludes performed by Watson out of character. These descriptions are beautifully written and delivered, while just about managing to conjure up the much-loved aesthetics of ‘Pulp Fiction’ on an empty stage.

Despite the strength of this scene setting, ultimately it is the visual side that turns out to be the flaw in this inventive concept. Reworking a film for stage is always a challenge – but possibly never more so than when the film is ‘Pulp Fiction’, and the production happens to be a one-woman play. The style that makes the film so special is, somewhat inevitably, lost in translation here. Ultimately, though, the energy of Watson’s performance drives the show, and means that she just about pulls it off.

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Hugh Kapernaros

at 09:53 on 17th Aug 2018

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Staged in an upstairs room of Tolbooth Market, Niamh Watson’s “Pulp Fiction: The One Woman Play” is a vivid and fast-paced retelling of Quentin Tarantino’s classic. Perfect for film and theatre lovers alike, the show is non-pretentious and entertaining, anchored by the relentlessly energetic acting and great writing of it’s creator.

Upon entering, Watson sets the scene beautifully, painting the world of Pulp Fiction like a campfire tale, and sparing no detail of Tarantino’s Americana iconography. The knowing smiles from the audience proved the original is now in itself a cultural icon, and thus a big undertaking for a solo show. With no visuals, minimal costuming and no Uma Thurman (although Watson does have a look of a Tarantino star to her) the show was stripped back and simple, leaving everything down to the actress' performance.

Thankfully, she’s great. Jumping back and forth between different voices can be gimmicky, but she’s confident, fierce and quick - even funny at points. Such is one of the best features of her show - Watson teases out the subtler dimensions of the original; it’s humour, satire and quirkiness. She has fun with the characters and isn’t afraid to make changes, playing up on Vince Vega’s cool-dude drawl and highlighting the childish vulnerability of Mia.

Everyone loves Pulp Fiction, it seems, so it’s hard to know whether or not the play would pack the same punch if it was watched by someone who’d never seen it. A lot of the appeal for the show comes from the sheer spectacle of watching someone take on such a classic. Indeed, the reverence surrounding the original is stifling, and it would be all too easy to disappoint. However, Watson has managed to create a great show in its own right. With all the energy of an ensemble cast and all the fun of it’s source material, 'Pulp Fiction: A One Woman Play' is well worth a watch.

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