Review: West End Girls

by librarykris on August 10, 2012

The first job artist Barbara Tate had in Soho was in a bar.  Soon she was charmed into working as a maid for Mae,  a ‘glamorous West End Girl ‘. Ken Duncum has adapted Tate’s memoir about her time working for a prostitute in Soho. It’s fun and fizzy in the first half before things turn more serious (and surreal)  in the second half.

Victoria Abbott (Barbara) plays the transition from uncertain innocent to comfortable, confident woman with spirit. Jessica Robinson (Mae) provides a contrasting portrait of a woman initially confident in her allure then gradually sliding towards being dependent on someone else. These two actors are the strong heart of the play. It is fascinating to see their relationship played out in eye contact and small physical gestures. They are supported by a tight-knit ensemble who play a multitude of characters.  Heather O’Carroll, Gavin Rutherford, Bryony Skillington, Hayley Sproull and Paul Waggott whirl around the stage providing Vaudeville style sound effects, and half seen (yet fully formed) characters. Director David O’Donnell has obviously worked very hard alongside the cast to help them achieve such a coherent performance.

Designer Andrew Foster has worked with a reconfigured theatre space to create a versatile stage. Set pieces are on wheels and are moved around to suggest different spaces. The (many) costumes by Jane Boocock are elegant yet simple (and desirable.)  Lighting, Marcus McShane, and Sound, Gareth Hobbs, have to support a variety of performance styles which they do.

Tonight (10 August) Circa are throwing an indoor street party to accompany the performance.  Sounds like fun – just like this show.

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