Circa Theatre
Sept 6-Oct 4 | Reviewed by Melody Nixon

NEIL LABUTE has a reputation for ‘seeing the truth’ in our modern world. In Some Girl(s) I’m not sure I buy his interpretation of the modern values-crisis, or see it as particularly revealing. The characters he presents centre stage are often so borderline in the choices they make that what we are shown ends up more as a representation of LaBute’s own values than an ‘objective’ critique of modern Man (and indeed, despite the presence of female characters, these plays are very much focused on the male psyche). The fact that no realisation on the part of the central character takes place arguably shows LaBute has little issue with the choices of his characters. More pointedly, the playwright sets up menial challenge to those viewers who might share the same values as the protagonist himself.

To be sure, Toby Leach as the central character of ‘Man’ holds the whole piece together well. He flops from one scenario to the next in a dim-witted daze of emotional struggles and superficial attractions; for the most part we are encouraged to laugh with him as we witness his many foibles. His initial scene with first-ever girlfriend ‘Sam’ (Jacqueline Nairn) is the most emotive, perhaps because Sam is given a complete human background and her grievances are allowed to be aired. There is a sense that after this first scene LaBute coughed out the rest of the play in a haze of repetition; and the string of female characters who follow quickly defy any initial promises of depth.

Woman number three, Lindsay (played elegantly by a well cast Jacque Drew) is the natural follow on act from cute, sexy, and impossibly unfettered Tyler (Rachel Forman). Drew’s character represents the poised, wise older woman who has gained independence from patriarchal holds. LaBute even goes so far as to make her a professor of gender studies. It almost shouldn’t come as a surprise then that Lindsay falls victim to stereotyped ideas of beauty and youth, and ultimately ties her value up with her physical body. While contemplating the strength of her husband’s love and discussing her work as a professor, Lindsay cannot suppress the unspeakably inane urge to ask Man if his current beau is younger than she is.

Man’s final girl Bobbi (Danielle Mason) is obviously everything Man has always wanted, but his ‘modern issues’ of upsizing and shopping-around have prevented him from having. To add impact to the idea that LaBute is actually telling us about his own uncritical process as a modern man, the ‘real love’ of Man’s life is embodied in the typical ideal of a good woman presented in today’s media. This wonder woman who we never actually get to know is both confident as a doctor and as a busty blonde; but remains the most one-dimensional of all the women presented. This is not to detract from Mason’s performance which is as nuanced and subtle as you’re perhaps going to get with a character like Bobbi from LA.

It is difficult to critique a play that has, as always, been beautifully produced by Circa. I find it is the choice of play rather than the production of the play that riles me in this instance. Some Girl(s) is flashy and ‘youth’ orientated; but don’t believe its promises, it won’t tell you anything you don’t know about the supposed ‘modern man.’

See also:
» Some Girl(s) (Reviewed by Imogen Neale)