Old Red Lion Theatre
Reviewed – 5th September 2018
“The actors are engaging to watch, but That Girl’s overall concept could do with some development”
For anyone who grew up in the 90s, the film Madeline should be a familiar one. Its star, Hatty Jones, was thrust into the limelight at ten years old. Now approaching thirty, Hatty has written That Girl, inspired by her experiences as a child actor and how this has impacted her adult life. Fundamentally, it’s a play exploring female friendships, modern life as a twenty-something year old and letting go of youth.
As Hatty herself has noted, she wanted to create a world that is “not hers, but could have been”. The play opens with a scene involving Hatty (played by Hatty Jones herself) in an interaction with a colleague who is adamant she knows her from somewhere, but can’t figure out where. This opening, clearly based on situations Hatty has no doubt found herself in on numerous occasions, is entertaining and sets the play up well.
That Girl’s main strengths lie in its relatable themes and scenarios. Following the opening scene, we are introduced to one of Hatty’s housemates, Poppy (Alex Reynolds), as the two young women prepare to move out of the flat they share. Their friendship is explored well in their exchanges of dialogue. From the fun they clearly have together, sharing a Turkish takeaway every Friday and joking around, to the jealousy that can also come from comparing your life to that of your friends. The latter comes to light when Poppy’s new boyfriend appears on the scene and her priorities shift.
Online dating is explored when Hatty goes for a drink in a local pub with someone she met on Tinder. This scene will most likely resonate best with those more familiar with online dating, but anyone who has been in similar uncomfortable, somewhat awkward, situations should be able to empathise as well as laugh along.
The actors are engaging to watch, but That Girl’s overall concept could do with some development. It sometimes just feels as though we are watching quite a self-obsessed girl, clinging on to her childhood of fame. This is mainly apparent during a scene where Hatty sits in the dark watching a scene from Madeline and mouthing the dialogue, as well as when she’s chatting to Poppy’s boyfriend (Will Adolphy) and appears, at times, to be showing off about her childhood experiences. Is it a coping mechanism? Is it because she can’t let go of her past? Or is she just a bit narcissistic? These are questions the audience is left with quite frequently.
Directed by Tim Cook, That Girl deals with universal themes and benefits from good performances, but I was left not quite knowing what its overall concept or aim was supposed to be by the end. The play shows promise, though, and it would be interesting to see a revised or developed version, if one ever materialised.
Reviewed by Emily K Neal
Old Red Lion Theatre until 15th September