Pleasance Theatre – until 9th March 2019
Review by Heather Chalkley
This is a hard hitting 90 minutes of real life in the 80’s, given to the writers by people who lived through it. A stark illustration of Soho backstreets in all its infamous glory. Playwrights are notorious for bending real life to suit dramatic ends – being faithful to actual events can be hard. As a debut piece from Nicola and Stacey Bland, this piece shows great potential for their writing careers.
Wendi Peters (Sylvie) came across as a very real person, channelling all the emotions of a caring mother, accepting her child’s decision to transition with the knowledge only she could have. Matt Greenwood gives Vicky all the sass of a drag queen, needed to front out the prejudice and outright hostility of 80’s society. Greenwood then shows the vulnerable, frightened underbelly of Vicky that so desperately wants to transition. Nicola Bland plays Debbie with love and understanding, showing how resilient true friendship can be. Stacey Bland (Gabby) carries off well the single mother who feels caught in a trap with only one way out. Ben Welch as Fat Pearl brings a good deal of humour
and a wealth of life experience that manipulates and loves the young people at the Golden Girl with equal measure.
The Director Victoria Gimby, has made good use of costume, set and language to bring to life that era. She has used dark and light shades of the main characters to strengthen the intensity of the dialogue at the most poignant moments. This is heightened by the thrust stage, which increases the intimacy between actors and the audience. However, it does mean there can be prolonged periods when the players have their back on the audience, causing them to twist and turn to make eye contact. There were times when Vicky (Greenwood) spoke so softly you could barely hear her.
Having lived through the 80’s as a young person myself, all the characters are very believable and true to the times. This true story has been delivered with honesty and compassion, giving you an insight that, unless you had walked in their high heels, you would have no idea.