Hollywood Fringe 2016
A trio of female victims find their voices in literary mash-up.
What if three unfortunate female characters from fiction could meet up in a literary no-man’s land and give each other the moral support to try and change their own stories?
That is the simple premise for this showcase which manages to hold our attention through very good performances and emerge as a fierce and feisty piece of feminist theatre.
We hear a male narrator voice read extracts from “Lolita”, “The Great Gatsby”, and “Hamlet”. In turns, the female characters respond with the lines they have said a thousand times before, knowing that their destinies are in the hands of the story-teller.
It takes a little while for the characters to notice each other, and there is some business as they each dare to jump off the island of their book, but once they are interacting the show comes alive.
Through games and some very good contemporary dance, the girls reveal facets of themselves that are not useful to the narratives they have been trapped in, so have remained unexplored.
Lolita (Leah Artenian) initially lies to her older, wiser new companions, fearing they might think less of her if they knew what she had been invented to do. Sophia Brackenridge brings a fluid melancholy to Ophelia, her long limbs and gentle English voice suggesting a yearning for a life that won’t be cut short.
Savannah Gilmore brings a nice worldliness to Daisy, perhaps the least developed of the three parts and the one that is most trapped in her own time.
If this all sounds a bit sophomoric, in the hands of lesser actresses it might be, but this performer-devised piece (there is no credited director) succeeds in making us question the story-tellers, which is perhaps the most important message for everyone at the moment.
There is too much time spent wondering about the rules of the place (we all know it’s a conceit so the fewer questions asked about it, the sooner we can reap the benefit), but each interaction feeds a growing sisterhood for these women who have been starved of female friendship. Daisy relaxes her brittleness, Lolita allows herself to think about what she might be if she were mistress of her own destiny.
Ophelia emerges as the most human, perhaps because she seems the most timeless, but also maybe because she is a character from drama rather than literature, so she is already comprised of the spoken, rather than the written, word.
A fine and thought-provoking hour.