A Bruising Evening at the Tabard
The Vagina Monologues Meet Educating Rita in a disappointing new production
This play claims to be a playful yet thought-provoking 'dramedy' about identity and sexuality. A sort of Vagina Monologues meets Educating Rita with Emile Zola thrown in for good measure, it features a talented young cast who cope very well with a wordy script against a background of fridge freezers.
It's a bit of a muddle with lots of ideas, some of which are good, but there's little sense of overall direction so it's hard to tell what writer Nadia Cavelle is trying to say. It's overlong, overwrought and falls wide of the mark of its stated aim.
Here's the plot. The ridiculously named Banana (Kirsty Rider) is sharing an apartment with Jacquie (Eva-Jane Willis) who is moving out to work as a prostitute. Banana can't afford the rent on her own so she moves in with a stranger she had a one night stand with.
The stranger is Justin (Michael Edwards), a pleasant enough bloke who can't decide whether he wants to be a lawyer or chef. Banana is a failed gymnast, sex crazed and dyslexic. In spite of the fact that they row a lot, Justin falls for her, and tries to pack her off to night school so she can learn to read and write.
Jacquie works for high-class pimp, Mona (Lily Knight). Her aim is to sell her body until she has enough money to go to college. This triggers much discussion on whether the vagina or the penis is being exploited in sex-for-money transactions. Meanwhile, Jacquie's French client (Toby Rolt) introduces her to Zola's Nana, the story of a high class courtesan in 19th century Paris who dies a horrible death, and she comes to identify with her. This could have been interesting but, like so many other aspects of the play, it doesn't go anywhere.
There are two acts, each one introduced with some cod-philosophy spoken by James Barnes who as Damien is wasted for the rest of the play as he does little more than hover as body guard and general factotum to Mona.
The second act is set a year later when, by a series of unbelievable coincidences, all the lives become interwoven again and it lurches to an incomprehensible and unrealistic finale.
The performance lasts approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes with a 15 minute interval
Contains strong language and scenes of a sexual nature
August 14, 2015