Writer: Gaia Mondadori
Director: Jemima Langdon
Gaia Mondadori performs her own short (60 minute) play about the trials and traumas of getting on as a performer, and the particular risks run by young women. She is perky, gamine, wide-eyed; she is quite prepared to exploit her prettiness to secure acting work, and she is successful in getting a foot on the ladder to stardom, or anyway work regular enough to buy food. The play shows her dating, flirting, auditioning, all with pinpoint recognition of the effect of her perky attractiveness.
She lands a part in a film, goes on location in Vienna, stays in a swanky hotel, meets an older, famous, hunky actor, parties rather too heartily, and then her world collapses. Innocent flirting results in serious abuse, she is sexually exploited, and she discovers that no-one sees her as anything other than the next pretty starlet on the starlet production line. The play traces her enthusiastic rise, her fall into self-blame, and her struggle to come out of that depression with a clearer sense of self and self-worth.
It isn’t a new story. It is, however, told with charm and energy, and very nicely honed comic timing. Gaia Mondadori flits round the stage like a dancer, changes costume without missing a step, and wears a very unflattering chicken hat with grace and style. The play is pacy and funny, and lands its darker message with good effect. That Mondadori seems more comfortable in her comic persona than in her tragic one is a small problem for the message but a significant win for the entertainment; a very full house gives the show rapturous applause. The comedy takes up two-thirds of the stage time, the trauma and recovery are dealt with relatively briskly.
The actor/writer, director, producer, and choreographer are all students at Cambridge, and are just embarking on theatre work. The promise held out by this piece is considerable, the inexperience of the writer is revealed by the relative sketchiness of the darker material when compared to the bubbly enthusiasm of the comedy, but being very entertaining and very funny are probably not the harshest criticisms for a new company to bear.
Runs until 30 October 2022