Blame and hope pour out in full measures in The Revlon Girl, Neil Anthony Docking’s drama exploring the impact the Aberfan disaster had on a group of mourning Welsh women, who are desperate to claw something back.
Just over 50 years on from the tragedy, the catastrophic incident still blots the history of Wales like a tarry black stain that can never be removed. 116 children died when a colliery spoil tip collapsed on to the local school and the question of blame and compensation still lingers strong to this day.
Charlotte (Antonia Kinlay), a Revlon representative from Bristol pays the group a visit to offer the women much deserved beauty tips, but is left fighting to get a word in edgeways with the emotionally rowdy group. The play offers the audience a chance to delve deep into the psyche of the women who lost so much on the fatal day the disaster struck.
Docking approaches this subject with good bouts of humour, but Maxine Evans’ direction of the script is lacking and ill thought out for the stage. There are moments of pure poignancy as the women share their communal sense of loss, but the cast often deliver these lines facing the back of the stage, it’s achingly embarrassing to watch at times.
Sian (Charlotte Gray), a typical Welsh lass trying to hold it all together is up against it with Rona, wonderfully played by Bethan Thomas who grasps the combative spirit of a rilled up Welsh woman. Zoe Harrison and Michelle McTerna play Jean and Marilyn respectively offering good support but often fall to the wayside in the frequent clunky dialogue.
There are wonderful moments in this piece, Rhona’s cry that ‘everything is about money’ echoes a deeper pathos in light of the recent Grenfell Tower catastrophe. Like the Welsh Coal Board who took little responsibility over their own oversights in 1966, the same questions of blame are pointed to the officials that let the fire blaze strong just a few months ago.
This piece definitely hasn’t been adapted well for the Fringe, the cast and crew are all highly trained but it can be been mistaken for a polished am-dram production easily. Disappointing viewing for a show that promises so much light.
This true story offers an understanding of how humans need each other in times of disaster to pull through and find their inner beauty. Charlotte teaches the group a strong sense of togetherness using lipsticks and powders, but I sure do wish she taught them to understand the basics of stage delivery. 3/5
Review written by Niall Hunt.
The Revlon Girl is currently showing at the Assembly Roxy until Monday 28th August 2017 as part of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival. For more information on the production, visit here…
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