Writer: Elinor Cook
Director: Amelia Sears
Reviewer: Paul Couch
It’s difficult to figure out who writer Elinor Cook is aiming for with her second play; the male sex as a whole, air-headed females who capitulate to their will at every opportunity, or a little of both.
The feminist agenda is clear and would have had Germaine Greer chortling with delight – well thirty years ago maybe, when women were burning their bras willy-nilly and Dr Greer was rather more militant than she has become in her seventh decade.
The performances by Ben Lambert, Georgina Strawson, and Jade Williams are capable enough, although a clearer distinction between all three actors’ characters would help. For some odd reason, the entire first scene – admittedly set in a toilet cubicle – is delivered in stage whispers, which, while authentic, might benefit from some dramatic licence and a touch more projection.
Cook’s script is simple enough, comprising short vignettes of a thirty-something couple’s (Jane and Toby) life together as their romance dwindles and not even the demise of their beloved pet can paper over the cracks, and Jane’s friend Bella, with whom she starts a feminist blog. The blog’s success introduces even more conflict as the women realise they’re actually becoming a part of the establishment they lambaste so viciously online.
Director Amelia Sears has a quality pedigree and so one wonders why the pace of this relatively simple piece was so badly lacking. However, consideration of everything else is dwarfed by the artificial script. Cook seems to have been in such a hurry to get her feminist point across that she’s forgotten that the average audience can spot soap-opera dialogue a mile off. The clichés flow thick and fast, threatening to drown what poignancy and conflict there is.
Jamie Vartan’s set doesn’t help with the pace. Three enormous window frames are constantly reconfigured by the cast to create different settings. The process is unnecessary, noisy and cumbersome, resulting in some very clunky scene transitions.
It’s a great shame that a little more care wasn’t taken in both the writing and execution of The Girl’s Guide to Saving The Worldbut all is not lost. With a re-write and a fresh eye, it might have something going for it.