Edinburgh Fringe 2012
Dating George Orwell
The Laughing Horse @ The White Horse
Festival: Edinburgh Fringe
Pauline is an unconventional lover. Her interest has been awakened in the libraries and bookstores until her passion can be contained no more and she satisfies her fantasies with a physical relationship with books. Following discovery by her parents, group and individual therapy and an unfulfilled relationship with Emo Boy she returns to her books, her fantasies and her passion.
This I quite disturbing. Pauline’s search for her place within an increasingly sexualised world is found through meeting – not literally – the authors of her childhood. Not the authors of teenage fiction but those worth of study, comment and love. She starts by celebrating her 21st birthday alone and then tells us of how she moved from the loneliness of that celebration to being celebrated through her book fetish. Eventually one disturbing episode discovered by her parents later she finds herself in therapy. It is there that she starts to “come off” the drug and finds a boyfriend. What she doesn’t realise is that he shares the fetish and after a trip to Ann Summers, time spent preparing herself and turning up at his home with the hormones raging of a teenager she discovers him at it the way her parents had discovered her. The shock sends her backwards to the fetish she enjoys.
It is a play that demands an actress who can deliver convincingly the most bizarre sexual fetish you can hardly imagine. It has it. Kelly Jones manages to convince us that she is Sexy Pauline and the ticks, looks and interaction with the audience is all about this is me, please judge me. It is unabashed and determined which is just as well because the script lacks so much. The narrative does convince but that is from the sense that this is a performer able to perform. I would avoid any reference to what she could do with a phone book but Kelly has you gripped at times.
I was however not convinced by the opening. Ponderous to the point at which I was drifting establishing the awkwardness of the character almost made us lose her. That having been said her performance in the small space, with odd chairs and a table or two thrown in was delivered to a full house. It was engaging to see that you could order drinks half way through – indeed were encouraged to so do – and the whole vent felt like a gentle afternoon spent musing on the nature of life.
The props and set were as you would expect minimalistic to the point of not being worth the bother though she certainly needed Huxley and Orwell to perform several set pieces.
As a play though, I cannot see this having legs beyond the Fringe. It was interesting and the descriptions of nightly sniff and stroke a thons disturbed sufficiently to make the visit worthwhile. I did wonder just where we were going with it but Kelly’s performance kept us on track. The question I had at the end was ion track to where? I found myself deliberating on what it was all about and wanted more context and more analysis. Had it had more of that I do believe that we would have had stronger piece and one that was more the equal of the actor performing.