Dolls & Guys @ Bread and Roses Theatre Review

A summer that has seen Greta Gerwig’s smash hit Barbie movie become the highest grossing movie of the year, the decades long phenomenon has enjoyed a new found resurgence worldwide. An embodiment of femininity held up for a long time in the mainstream, the world famous doll served as a symbol of beauty, a message ingrained from childhood. Channeling and dismantling this idea, Sabean Bea and Alanna Flynn craft Dolls & Guys, a Toy Story meets Spice Girls mash up adding to our millennial, feminist-centric theatrical landscape we’re currently in.

Dolls stationed upon a shelf, perfectly poised in waiting to be purchased, Juliet (Sabean Bea), Lucy (Violet Verigo), Soraya (Kerry Boyne), Maggie (Carol Parradine) and Billie (Dorothea Jones) spring to life when no one is around. This in turn revealing the ensemble’s humanistic qualities that function as a stark contrast to the more mechanical roles they end up taking on when purchased. A colourful, chaotic, toy shop aesthetic projected behind them, the set up is an absurd one, but a clever one to explore womanhood and patriarchal domination further.

Bea’s Juliet is determined to shape the world with her intellect and vision, Verigo’s Lucy is demure, polite, agreeable – the typical beauty standard, Boyne’s Soraya is the life and soul of the party – overly confident and self assured, Parradine’s Maggie a maturer character – warm, wise, comical presence sidelined continually by society’s ageist standards, Jones’ Billie is tomboy-ish – down to earth and says what she thinks – a collection of characters who all approach life differently, yet meet on some sort of common ground.

Alex Akindeji’s turn as the Shopkeeper instills the capitalistic, competitive nature the play examines, here we really see the commodification of beauty and the more superficial meaning of this word unfold. Nicholas Pople’s embodiment of the customers making the purchases a reminder of the patriarchal structures that uphold beauty standards. Julia Sudzinsky’s direction, a novel yet urgent venture – curating a piece with heart. Bea and Flynn write a fresh, thought provoking, necessary work cultivating a safe space to explore what beauty means to the characters onstage rather than having a judgmental eye dictate this. With slicker transitions and a more well rounded exploration of each woman’s story further, Dolls & Guys has the ability to really make a truly powerful political statement.

Written by Lucy Basaba.

Dolls & Guys was shown from Tuesday 5th until Saturday 9th September at the Bread and Roses Theatre. To find out more about the production, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop