Writer: Hatty Jones
Director: Tim Cook
Reviewer: Sophia Moss
If you were a child in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, you’ve probably seen the 1998 film Madeline. Hatty Jones, who played Madeline in real life, has written an unhinged version of herself into That Girl, a play which explores life after child acting, female relationships, London life and the fear of moving on in an intelligent hour-long show which will resonate with millennials everywhere.
In this play, Hatty has moved on from her acting career and works in advertising. She lives with two housemates and, on the outside, seems perfectly fine. One of Hatty’s flatmates is moving in with her boyfriend, her other flatmate is seeing someone seriously, while Hatty stays at home in the evenings, watching her old film and mouthing every word.
This Whatever Happened To Baby Jane Moment was funny, sad and slightly terrifying in equal measure and was flawlessly performed. Hatty explains that sometimes she can’t breathe, she has to count to 100, that she lies in bed making rules for herself and she lies to the other characters, telling them the thing she wished had happened rather than the truth. Hatty’s character is well executed because it’s believable; she is clearly behaving erratically, but not so erratically that it doesn’t ring true.
That Girl has its flaws. There is a scene where Poppy, Hatty’s flatmate, walks in to find Hatty wearing a see-through black lace teddy and grinding on Poppy’s boyfriend. Poppy decides to find new housemates on Spare Room.com rather than live with Hatty after that, but she doesn’t seem angry enough for that scene to make sense.
Most of the play, however, is painfully relatable. The part-time regular job, full-time blogger lifestyle, the awkward Tinder dates and the endless mentions of Avocado on toast reminds us of our own lives, while Hatty’s inability to move on and the way she clings to her childhood rings a little too true. In several subtle yet powerful parts of this play, one character will open up about a real problem and the other character, completely wrapped up in themselves, talks over them and doesn’t appear to notice.
That Girl has three performers, with two playing multiple characters. The name-changes must be announced to make these transitions clear, but the actors embody the different parts well. The set design is simple; piles of cardboard boxes, a pile of clothes in an open travel bag, a multicoloured rug, an Apple Mac and a stool, but it works as Hatty’s house and makes a believable canteen and bar.
Hatty obviously has some insights into how it feels to be a child actor, which may be why that aspect of the play is so convincing. It’s not a cautionary tale about how child acting messes you up, but it doesn’t glorify the experience either. Hatty isn’t doing well, but it doesn’t seem like she’d be doing well if she’d had a normal childhood. Child acting didn’t ruin her, but it doesn’t seem to have helped her adult life either. Madeline is her happy place, where she hides when she can’t deal with reality.
That Girl isn’t perfect, but it will resonate with a millennial audience who knows the high rent, expensive wine, avocado on toast world that Hatty is describing and can relate to the character’s fear of being left alone, of growing up and of having to move on.
Runs until 15th September 2018 | Image: Contributed