Her not Him
Reviewed – 30th January 2018
“the relationships all seemed forced and lacking the genuine intimacy to make them believable”
Girl meets girl in Joanne Fitzgerald’s Her Not Him, a romantic drama with a transvestite twist. Produced by Lughnacy Productions, this is the story of Bea, a woman who has grown bored of her younger lover, and her attraction to Jemima, a transvestite who gatecrashes her birthday party. Set to a salsa rhythm, the play tackles issues of gender, sexual attraction and maturity, it’s Fitzgerald’s debut full length play, enjoying a short week run at Theatre 503.
It’s a very promising start. The script is warm and witty, presenting its characters with affection and depth. The production has a clear agenda, but doesn’t get bogged down trying to make a grand statement. Jemima is who she is unapologetically with no need to defend or politicise her choices, and is a far stronger champion for gender equality and acceptance for it. Older woman Bea, faces the conundrums of a single woman reaching a certain age – she doesn’t want to be alone and she wants to have fun, the type of fun that is more easily shared with younger partners, who have yet to want what Bea has already put aside. Her relationship with Ellie is doomed from the outset, not by Ellie’s immaturity, but by Bea’s inability to accept her for who she is, either now or in the future.
Unfortunately, this production still feels unfinished. The cast all do a spirited job – John James gives a charming and naïve turn to the otherwise feisty Jemima, Leah Kirby is a lively, fun and slightly ridiculous Ellie while Orla Sanders stoical Bea keeps the show grounded – but the production lacks connection. They inhabit their own skins, but aren’t quite comfortable with each other yet. The direction does not help them. Amy Lawrence has given the play a lovely rhythm and the set choreography is impressive. But the effect is a little too clinical, highlighting the lack of emotion and the salsa section serves to tell the audience what we should be feeling, rather than heightening what we already are. It’s telling, not showing, too often; as a result the relationships all seemed forced and lacking the genuine intimacy to make them believable.
On the whole, I feel like I’ve seen this show prematurely. It still needs time to bed in, get comfy and enjoy its rough edges. Perhaps after a week, when it’s found its feet it will be on stronger ground. It certainly has all the right elements. It just needs the right chemistry.
Reviewed for thespyinthestalls.com
Her not Him
Theatre 503 until 3rd February