Amateur Girl by Amanda Whittington (2014) – A Theatre Review

Amateur Girl (St James Theatre, UK, 2014)

 

 

 

Although mostly a Jazz club or cabaret venue, St James Theatre also shows many plays. Amateur Girl by Amanda Whittington and directed by Kate Chapman was among the most recent plays showing here. We, after fighting through London’s night life and labyrinth to find it came to a restaurant. Though very nice, we looked at each other wondering if we had gotten the right place. After enquiries, we found it to be in the right place but the tickets we had purchased (under a brilliant deal) seemed to bemuse the staff. Amused, we eventually found our way to a nice little dinner polished with Wine. A call to take our seats. We find the stage, smaller than we expected, with an audience set up like a school hall. It took us a while to realise that we were likely to be the youngest there. What was the target audience? As always, I had entered without knowing the play, trying to take it all on its own merits. A synopsis will follow, but I’d like to take a quick look at the plays themes. 

 

Considering the subject matter, the porn industry, one would be quite right to expect sexuality to be an important consideration. However, the play is slightly removed from the subject. Also, for a one woman play, it’d be hard not to mention the notion of gender. Despite the sexuality involved the play feels more concerned with relationships and gender. To clarify, not the affect of porn on either. In fact, porn isn’t really a subject of the play at all. Her employment is treated as slightly taboo but no real exploration of the subject occurs. This may be treated as an acceptance of porn, if it wasn’t for the often ‘look back with regret’ attitude the play takes. There is more to say for the character and the particular way in which she regards the things around her. The play is very much from a female perspective, taking into account two primary characters. One representing a more embracing attitude whilst the other a more skeptical. This does unfortunately leave male aspects rather neglected or just plain villainised.  Whilst the content could have been discussed at depth, we are instead left with cultural attitudes towards the taboo with an unfortunate treatment of gender.

 

The play is stylised into a one person performance peice. With secondary characters treated as flashbacks through recordings. Though this isn’t the same as the protagonist telling the entire story, it is still subjected to her perspective. This viewpoint is aided by her ‘look back with regret’ attitude that she takes to everything within the play. This does place a large responsibility on the lead actress, Lucy Speed, to keep the piece together. As an audience we must be interested in the thoughts and memories of a single character performed by a single actress. The piece doesn’t make things easy for itself. 

 

This play is a difficult piece. Setting out to do things, made all the more ambitious by its style. With one actress, it is crucial that she is successful. With what this could have been the play falls short. Using its style as a hurdle rather than a spring board. Creating bore over interest. Similarly, what is there is underdeveloped. A premise more powerful than its execution.

 

Synopsis

Julie, a nurse, finds a new lease of life in Amateur pornography. Eventually leaving her job to pursue this career leaves her with mixed results as she leaves friends and colleagues behind. But in the end, was it all worth it?

 

Further Reading

Amanda Whittington’s Site

Fifth Word Theatre

The Guardian Review

Everything Theatre Review

The Stage Review

Harry’s Christmas



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