Goody

Wed 2nd – Mon 28th August 2017

reviews

Helen Chatterton

at 11:04 on 8th Aug 2017

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‘Goody’ is the latest production staged by BoonDog Theatre, and is the riveting story of one man and his chimpanzee (Goody), and their life as part of a circus. The story is one filled with many emotions, which is beautifully captured by its two-man cast. ’Goody’ is certainly not a show to be missed.

The premise for the show’s success is its storyline, which explores the inner workings of the relationship between Frances and Goody, exploring their natural inequalities, as well as the morals of retaining performing animals. As the plot develops, the audience learns of the pairs tragic past. It would have been easier for Lucy Roslyn as the writer to completely demonise the role of the human in keeping animals in captivity, but what is truly impressive about the show is that the audience is lead to genuinely sympathise with both parties. However, the storyline is not completely dark, as there are well balanced moments of love, companionship and humour.

The cast, consisting of Roslyn and Jesse Rutherford are an excellent fit for their respective roles. As Goody, Roslyn maintains an extremely physically demanding role for an hour, coming as close to being a chimp as is probably humanely probable. Vocally, Roslyn also impressed, emulating the noises of a chimpanzee with ease. Whilst the costuming, which utilised the traditional image of a performing chimpanzee was well executed, Roslyn could have portrayed the character regardless. Rutherford as Frances was equally capable, embodying the tortured and isolated man he is written as. He was able to make some acts of evil more human, and seemed to genuinely care for Goody. On occasions on which other character voices were required, Rutherford was also very successful.

Given the heart-breaking story being told on stage, other elements of the production were stripped back, highlighting the acting of the cast. The backing track of grasshoppers placed the plot firmly in reality, but never distracted. Similarly, the simple staging of a wooden pallet emblazoned with the name of the circus (and theatre group) provided enough on-stage dynamism without needing an excessive design.

The only issue in the entire production was the venue, as the walls were by no means soundproof, as any loud disturbances outside, as well as a short burst of rain, were heard. For the most part, Roslyn and Rutherford kept the audience firmly engaged in the reality they were presenting, but there were some noises that proved too loud to not break the spell.

The plot and acting present in ‘Goody’ are perfectly matched. The show features a timeless story, fantastically well told by BoonDog Theatre, and is a show I would happily see again, and would highly recommend to anybody.

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Kiya Evans

at 11:07 on 8th Aug 2017

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“I’m the only one that hears you. I’m the only one that’s listening.”

Part of the Fringe experience involves seeing a show which you wouldn’t necessarily normally attend (or choose for yourself), and then loving it - this, for me, was ‘Goody’. Presented by BoonDog Theatre, this is the sort of show which you will want to tell everybody about. It will occupy a space in your brain long after you leave the auditorium. Although not heavy handed or intensely graphic at all, the subtleties of the entire atmosphere and tone, as well as the stellar performances by both actors, make this a hidden gem of the 2017 Fringe season.

Lucy Roslyn plays the eponymous Goody, a chimpanzee who is being trained for a high-stakes ‘one perfect show’ by her trainer, Frances (Jesse Rutherford). Roslyn’s stunning physicality and voice work mean that her depiction of Goody is completely faultless. Her performance is, quite simply, awe-inspiring, and something which must be seen to be believed. The show is fairly mentally gruelling and intense, and so both actors must be applauded on this front. However, the physical toll that this show must also take on Roslyn is absolutely perplexing, and she stands out as one of the most impressive aspects of this production.

The entire show carries undertones of violence and unpredictability, from the whip attached onto Frances’ holster and the physical threats it administers/suggests, to the setting in 1930s Dustbowl America. Whilst some of this violence is much more prominent - for example, a few hard-to-watch scenes in which physical violence between the two characters manifests - the circus setting and repeated stories and threats of animal abuse contribute to this stiflingly ruthless environment on more of an implied basis. What results is not a circus show of spectacularity and grandeur, but something much more simple, and much more powerful.

Goody and Frances’ relationship possesses such a genuine connection, and is at once absolutely joyous and frighteningly tense to watch. The fragile connection between human and animal is pervasive throughout this show, a theme which is explored through their relationship rather than dismissed by it. They are not ‘the exception’, and BoonDog Theatre has no qualms about reminding the audience of this. The two are at once inexplicably connected - “If you’re not here with Frances, you’re nowhere Goody” - and uncontrollably different. Moments of tenderness and sweetness are rife, making for an emotionally tumultuous journey.

At times, the pace did feel slow, and the nature of the show as primarily consisting of Frances’ monologues meant that plot points did not quite feel natural. The acting, however, is flawless. Roslyn’s performance is a feast for the senses, and the combination of her physicality and Rutherford’s gritty intensity gives this show an edge, stripping theatre down to its basics and absolutely mastering them. Not at all pretentious or flashy, ‘Goody’ is, at its very core, incredible theatre. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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