If you liked Bridget Jones’s Diary, you’ll love this. Conversely, if you hated Bridget Jones’s Diary, you might still like this.
Image supplied by New Theatre
Meet Sophie, a 35-year-old single gal with a dead-end career, a penchant for gin and a knack for winding up in bizarre dating disasters. Every year that Sophie is single on Valentine’s Day, she buys a cat. We meet Sophie in the company of ten cats.
Originally staged as a ten minute monologue for the Short and Sweet festival, VD has gone from strength to strength, picking up awards for writing and performance and spawning reproductions in Canberra, Brisbane, Melbourne, Auckland, Malaysia, England, US, Scotland (Edinburgh Fringe), Philippines and India. Based on this success, VD has been extended into an hour-long, one-woman show.
You’ve got to love a play with a strong and accurate tagline because you can pretty much tell straight away if it’s going to be your cup of tea. Clearly, the target being older single ladies, I braced myself for what could have been a cringe-worthy exercise in tedium – a ten minute monologue stretched out into an hour, a single woman whining about dating life – but VD is surprisingly a crowd-pleaser. With a funny and fast paced script, an energetic and likeable performer, and not much else, it is surprisingly relatable to people from all walks of life.
This fact is due in large part to Eliza St John’s energy and likeability. It is no easy feat to sustain an entire act with little more than basic props and sporadic pop music. In this way she holds her own. If one had to pick holes I could say that the performance is on the whole a little samey and doesn’t demonstrate much range, however that’s more a limitation of character and script, which, although thoroughly entertaining, are not particularly deep.
Pete Malicki’s script is witty, funny and fast paced. It’s not hard to see why it has enjoyed so much critical success in a relatively short amount of time. The strength of this play is that it truly knows itself – knows its audience, knows its limitations, knows that this is a simple story about a simple girl with simple dreams, and that calls for a simple execution. In doing so, thanks to Lisa Eismen’s tastefully restrained direction, this play deftly avoids all the faux pas of previous explorations of the ‘feel good’ genre. It does not insult the audience by overgeneralising and it is not afraid to utilise the cliché if the cliché works for the story. As Sophie escapes to India in the pursuit of enlightenment, she is completely and comically aware that she is living the Julia Roberts cliché, and it works because she is herself a bit of a cliché.
This is a good bet for a fun, easy-going night at the theatre. If you liked Bridget Jones’s Diary, you’ll love this. Conversely, if you hated Bridget Jones’s Diary, you might be surprised at how much you like this.
Rating: 3 ½ out of 5 stars
Presented by The Monologue Project in association with New Theatre
Performed by Eliza St John
Written by Pete Malicki
Directed by Lisa Eismen
New Theatre, King Street, Newtown
7 – 10 May