Pros: Funny, poignant, engaging, and well-acted all around.
Cons: A bit more accent work from some of the actors would have really cinched it.
Full disclosure, I’m a longtime fan of Some Girl(s) playwright Neil Labute, which makes me both a sucker for his work and a hard critic when it comes to productions of his plays, so hopefully that evens out here. Labute, who’s involvement with a New York benefit against censorship in the theatre recently caused the event to be cancelled (note the irony here), has been controversial throughout his career. Most often classified so by audiences who fail to understand his utterly misanthropic humour. But if you can get on board with finding people’s selfish antics inherently funny, then you can get on board with Neil Labute, and Lord knows I am.
Some Girl(s) is the story of a Guy, never named, taking a walk down memory lane by visiting ex-girlfriends across America before he ties the knot with his young fiancé. He calls up his most meaningful exes to clear the air, since he’s got a habit of letting people down. He’s also published several stories about his romantic experiences that paint these former lovers in less than favourable lights, so he can’t be guaranteed a warm welcome.
Full Houses Theatre’s current production is a faithful staging of the script, bringing Labute’s signature meandering but always hilarious and cutting dialogue to life with the help of an excellent cast and the cosy and fitting new Wimbledon Studio facilities.
As Guy, Tom Hartill is the perfect blend of charming and blundering, keeping you guessing throughout about whether or not he’s really changed his womanising ways. He’s well complimented by outstanding performances from Emma Garcias as his high school girlfriend Sam; Alex Vincent as his experimental post-grad fling Tyler; Laura Murray as Lindsay, former colleague whom he deserted when their affair was discovered by her husband; and Hannah Blackstone-Brown as Bobbi, the one who got away (okay, the one he 100% let get away). Each represents a different kind of relationship, and not only is the character study of each different woman fascinating and truthful, but the ongoing character study of Hartill’s guy as he adjusts to fit with each woman while chasing his own agenda is a compelling journey.
While the full cast handles the script with care and extracts all the dark humour that arises from looking back at failed relationships and peeling wounds apart, Alex Vincent’s Tyler was a particular standout among the rest. Never my favourite in the play text alone, Tyler is given a depth and reliability with Vincent’s performance that I hadn’t expected. It was one of the most natural and easily convincing performances I’ve seen in sometime; Vincent’s comfort on stage and sense of playfulness as well as deep-rooted vulnerability was a joy to watch, and I look forward to following her career. Hartill, Garcias, Murray, and Blackstone-Brown display plenty of chops between them as well, though I was occasionally distracted by some inconsistent accent work (I’m American though, so might be more sensitive to this than others).
Despite this minor pet-peeve, the show was a true joy to watch. I enjoyed every minute and was thrilled to see the work of a writer I love so much brought to the stage with such care. Productions of Labute can falter when it comes to keeping the spontaneity of his dynamic dialogue alive, or making (I’ll admit it) his relatively weak or over-simplified plot-structures believable. But under the direction of Jack Brackstone-Brown, the play was well-cared for and clearly well-understood; a joke was never lost, and neither was a hard point about human nature.
Director: Jack Blackstone-Brown
Author: Neil Labute
Producer: Full Houses Theatre
Booking Until: Please note this play has completed its run.