The old stunt casting debate reared its head again earlier this year when it was announced that Youtuber Tanya Burr had been cast in the revival of Judy Upton‘s Confidence at Southwark Playhouse. But can anyone blame the marketing team from Boundless Theatre, who pride themselves on bringing in a younger new audience? With over 3 million followers on both Twitter and Instagram and 3.5 million subscribers on Youtube, Burr’s reach far exceeds most actors and media outlets; you can’t buy that level of advertising. And her switch to acting will undoubtedly help to not only encourage younger people to try theatre for the first time but perhaps also to have a look at off-west theatres. This can only be a positive thing. It’s just a shame that this production isn’t of a high enough calibre to ensure they will return.
Confidence is set in the 90s, although you would be forgiven for not realising the link, as most of the language and references are a muddle. There’s a cut-out of Liam Gallagher from a couple of years ago rather than from his Wonderwall heyday, a contemporary Walls ice cream sign and a Nokia mobile phone, which most people didn’t get their hands on until well into the 2000s.
But the whole thing is a bit of a mess, with the flimsy story buried under a mishmash of forgettable performances and questionable direction.
And as for the show’s big name, well let’s just say, it’s a good job Tanya Burr has an aptitude for online media, because after this stiff performance I don’t think she will be troubling too many casting directors anytime soon.
Reviewed by Nicky Sweetland
Photo: Helen Murray