Neil LaBute’s 2005 play was nominated for multiple Tony Awards and played in New York and London before being adapted for a film in 2013. This dark comedy tells the story of a man who wants ease his conscience by righting some wrongs before getting married – he goes on a journey across the U.S. to meet up with four of his ex-girlfriends, those who really mattered.
First in line is high school sweetheart Sam (Elly Condron) in Seattle, now married to a Safeway’s manager with a couple of kids. Their meeting is uncomfortable with Sam wondering what this is all about. The man (Charles Dorfman), who remains nameless, is affable but denies all wrongdoing although he has come to apologise. He says all the wrong things, being far too self-centred to notice.
The meeting with foul-mouthed, seductive Tyler (Roxanne Pallett) begins on a happier note as Tyler seems to be genuinely pleased about the news of his upcoming marriage and assures him that he has done nothing wrong. Yet as the meeting progresses and after Tyler has had a few beers, the man has to face some unpleasant truths.
When he meets Lindsay (Carolyn Backhouse), a professor of gender studies in Boston, with whom he had an extramarital affair, he is immediately put in his place. Lindsay is not taken in by his awkward charm and coldly informs him that she is not interested in any amends. Her husband is waiting in the car and she is following her own agenda.
The final meeting with Bobbi (Carley Stenson) is the most crushing experience for the man as she is the only girl he really loved. Bobbi sees right through his hypocrisy when he talks about “the honesty thing” that he is working on. Ultimately, the meeting is about the man feeling good about himself, not to make amends for the injuries and pain he has caused.
Gary Condes’ production is sensitively directed and beautifully acted. Often the emotional truth of the situation is revealed in the quiet moments by a mere gesture or look. Charles Dorfman is very good as the man who constantly has foot-in-mouth moments as he revisits his past but it is the women who truly shine in this play – most of all Carolyn Backhouse as the dignified and betrayed Lindsay who seeks revenge and Carley Stenson as Bobbi who is unwilling to support the man on his journey of self-healing so he can feel good about himself.
The set design by PJ McEnvoy features four different hotel rooms using colours and panels to give them character. Video clips of Guy’s journey and the cities he is visiting are projected onto the wall, accompanied by punchy rock music to shorten the sometimes lengthy set changes.
Reviewed by: Carolin Kopplin
Photo: Claire Bilyard
Some Girl(s) is playing at Park Theatre until 6th August