Brighton Fringe 2011
Ana-Maria Bamberger & Ginny Davis
The Marlborough Little Theatre
Tightly portrayed comic portrait of a self- deluded ex pathologist blaming the rest of her small world for her lack of success in a revealing and self-obsessed monologue.
Ten questions from Psychology Today launch 49 year old Tina Thomas on a rocky road of reminiscence and shallow reflection on her life so far. It focuses on her failures, and those she blames for them in her own self obsessed way. The character fulfils every cliché of the embittered pre-menopausal older woman, and Ginny Davis as Tina is right inside this unsympathetic portrayal.
Right from the start her smug pride in her new found counselling career (“Other people’s problems are so much easier to deal with”) leaks out in her answers “lovely offices”, my lovely partner – but it is always a superficial revelation. Ginny Davis plays this very tightly – the laughs keep coming, and she treads the thin line between what could have been lampoon very well, with an accurate dissection of a lost soul. You laugh with her at her ex-husband and his fat nurse lover, but you are laughing at her as well for such a crass display of her own egoism. Genuine moments of observed comedy came from the conversation with her mother, as she finds out that her ex has been round for the shepherds’ pie, and the later revelation that his lover has broken her leg and is thus incapacitated in the kitchen.
We find out early on that she is a doctor, later that she was a pathologist, and still later, in a dramatised flashback, her reason for leaving the carving up of cadavers for the carving up of psyches. It was here that the dramatic flow seemed very slow – while it was a nicely handled evocation of the sterile harsh lit world of the pathology laboratory the outcome was very obvious.
The performance kept it going, but the writing was flagging. Afterwards the tying of the pieces together began to drag, and the end resolution left you in a sort of dilemma. Her decision to seek out her old flame was superficial and on the same emotional level as the search for her lost cat. This is where the play as a play lost its way in that there was no development at all in the main character. It was a very clear, and for the first half an hour quietly funny portrayal, but the flatness of this lost character began to intrude on the performance – although Davis carries this with the studied accuracy of her character acting.
At the end of the performance all is flat; there has been no movement, no learning, just further escapism and self delusion. It is a slightly bitter bad taste, rather than a bitter-sweet resolution you leave with, the picture of someone unable to learn from the past, and alarmingly proud of their new profession of helping others to integrate their lives anew.