Good Girl

Thu 3rd – Sun 27th August 2017

reviews

Kiya Evans

at 09:23 on 6th Aug 2017

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Upon leaving 'Good Girl', one question played on my mind - did Naomi Sheldon steal my diary? Having just seen so many of my life and emotional experiences portrayed in her one woman show, I left Just the Tonic at the Mash House with it feeling more like a best friends’ bedroom, full of inside jokes and secrets. The space is intimate, but Sheldon has no issues in filling it completely, bursting at the seams with female empowerment, ABBA tunes, and historical sexual fantasies.

Sheldon has the compelling and utterly composure-shattering ability to mirror what it means to be a young woman in this day and age. If that sounds cliché, it must be pointed out that this show is anything but - 'Good Girl' is one of the most honest and transparent portrayals of womanhood (or ‘girlhood’) I’ve experienced. The window into the life of her character, GG, as told in anecdotes and with absolutely stunning characterisation, has the ability to pierce you with its interjections of emotional and existential questions and revelations, and make your belly hurt from laughing. I did not want to take my eyes off of Sheldon’s performance. Her portrayal of GG is nuanced and electric, able to shift at once from hilariously relevant tales of “The boys are drawing dicks everywhere” to “I harden every soft part of me until I start to taste…metal.” I found myself finishing the latter of those lines before Sheldon even had, and left the theatre feeling empowered and uplifted. No matter what your age, gender, or background, there is something in Sheldon’s impressive one woman show which will strike a chord in your own life, and you will fall in love with GG too. She possesses an almost Shakespearean rhythm in her candid discussions of sex, the female body, and masturbation.

'Good Girl' made me cry. Sheldon articulated so many of the trials and internal conflicts of what it means to be a young woman, in such a way that does not feel at all patronising or aggressive. There seemed to be a mutual understanding that her stories and emotions were being disclosed privately, like telling a friend or writing in a diary - her ability to gain the trust of the audience and create a sense of private disclosure in an intimate space is indicative of her gift as a performer in connecting with her audience. There is much to be learned from this show, and not only for those who can directly relate to GG’s experiences, which grow increasingly dark and serious. 'Good Girl' is about what it is to feel alone, to feel different, to feel shamed - but also to feel empowered and beautiful and alive. It is a show about being human, and it is unashamed about it. You cannot help but leave with a newly discovered love for Naomi Sheldon. The inevitable raucous laughter and heart-wrenching emotion is to be enjoyed by all, and should be seen by many.

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Noah Lachs

at 12:34 on 6th Aug 2017

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“The boys are drawing dicks on everything!” At least, this was the case in 1999 for 14 year-old Naomi Sheldon. Indeed, it is a phase that most schoolchildren (in mixed schools) will have encountered; there is even an entire South Park Episode about it. This abrupt and hilarious observation is one of many in ‘Good Girl.’ The show is an intensely personal, incisive, and hilarious tale of puberty and patriarchy. It is also a tale of personality. Our protagonist is a seat of bubbling passions that, as she tells us, exude from her skin. Her joy is ecstatic, and her despair is inconsolable. Forced to keep her “ball of rage” (amongst other passions) in check by the threat of social alienation, she becomes numb.

Despite being a one-woman show all about its performer’s life, we become well acquainted with multiple characters. Naomi—or “GG”—invites us into all the endearing, intimate and cruel episodes within her friendship group. Her best friends, Sarah, Zoe, Laura—all of whom we come to recognise not only for Naomi’s hilarious and consistent impersonations, but also for their associated smells—central to the narrative. We enter with them onto a journey of sexual self-discovery; this begins at age 11 with a discussion among the girls about a certain “feeling down there.” 11 year-old Naomi proudly (and hilariously) terms this “tingle”, a “Swayze”; she associates the feeling with watching Ghost, and its protagonist: an alive, well, and dashing, Patrick Swayze. However, the innocence of pre-teen self-examination grows into an ill-fated foray into sex-work, when GG is 20. This drives a rift between Naomi and Zoe, one of many upsetting social fractures in the show.

Sex and body do not always equate pleasure for GG, and that’s not just because she has trouble orgasming. The comedy of Naomi’s repartee to the boys’ dick-drawings (she draws detailed vaginas back) erodes into horror, as a boy in her class thrusts a porn magazine onto her desk, proclaiming how a vagina should look. It should not look like a “stuffed kebab”. Naomi excellently oscillates between light-hearted comedy, and crushing despair. It is this which renders her picture of youth so profound, it is naïve, and thus, authentic. ‘Good Girl’ is also a nostalgic return to a bygone eras of pop culture. Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Abba constitute more than the show’s artfully intersecting soundtrack, they also inform Naomi’s story. Recollecting one’s teen years means more than recounting the things that happened in them, doing so demands engagement with our music tastes, and the cult heroes we worshipped. Naomi is apt to identify, and to perform this.

Overall, ‘Good Girl’ is an imperative for anyone still scratching their head over female sexuality, objectification, and sexism, and likely satisfying and cathartic for anyone whom has suffered headaches (or worse) because of these banes. Lastly, it is a show that will speak to you if you've ever felt like the weird one in a friendship group, and felt hurt as a result. Indeed, it is a play for anyone that has ever felt strongly about anything.

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