Pros: Amateur Girl offers a dramatic and dark insight into an industry filled with exploited people, desperate to leave but finding themselves unable to do so. Lucy Speed grips the audience throughout the one woman show.
Cons: Although there are some light-hearted moments, the majority of the 70 minute production is shocking and sobering as it is clear that there are real women who find themselves in a similar predicament to Julie.
Fifth Word and Nottingham playhouse are taking their production Amateur Girl, on a national tour, with the St James Studio its home during its stay in London. From the instant Lucy Speed arrives on the stage in her role as Julie, you feel as though she could be your friend, neighbour or colleague. Warm and friendly she is like most single middle-aged women, she enjoys a glass of wine at the end of a long day at the hospital where she works as an auxiliary nurse and spending time with her friends. Based on real stories of women who are drawn into the amateur porn industry, it is a realistic and sombre story following Julie as she finds herself sliding further down the slippery slope of the adult sex trade – writer Amanda Whittington perfectly captures Julie’s loneliness and desperation.
Struggling to pay her bills and wanting more from her life, Julie is convinced by her married ‘boyfriend’ Gary, to take photographs on his new camera. When he suggests posting them online, Julie sees it as a harmless bit of fun, convinced that nobody will be interested in seeing someone like her in provocative positions. However, her photos prove a success and she is soon embroiled in the seedy world of pornography, completely convinced throughout that it is harmless and is just a way for her to earn some extra money. She dreams of a life where she can afford a nice house and expensive holidays. As her images and videos become more widespread it seeps into her professional life and she is suspended from work by the matron who she sees as a mother figure. However, even this is not enough to jolt Julie back to reality and she instead spends the evening clubbing and drinking to try and forget her painful life.
Eventually she confronts Gary as to the lack of wages she has seen despite his promise to split the profits 50/50. He relinquishes her from his home without a second thought and although Julie seems strong enough to stay away from him at first, she finally crawls back to him as she struggles to even pay for her phone bill. After he threatens her when she turns up at his house, Julie seeks solace in the security guard who works at her building and the audience is left to hope that she can put her past firmly behind her and move forward.
The main crux of Julie’s problem is her lack of self-worth and the belief that what she is taking part in is harmless. It is sad to think that there are other women in the same predicament with the same self-doubts that Julie has. It is an eye opening portrayal of a world mainly kept out of sight and out of mind of the masses; women desperate to save themselves and leave the sex industry but feeling isolated, alone and unable to help themselves.
Author: Amanda Whittington
Director: Kate Chapman
Theatre Company: Fifth Word
Booking Until: Friday 21st February
Box Office: 0844 264 2140
Booking Link: http://www.stjamestheatre.co.uk/events/amateur-girl/