"Freak" by Anna Jordan.
Nottingham New Theatre.
Nottingham New Theatre.
Taking the form of a series of monologues which eventually merge, "Freak" tells the often painfully frank stories of Leah and Georgie as they come to terms with their sex lives. Georgie is 30 and in a downwards spiral, having just quit her job, broken up with her long-term boyfriend, Jamie,and taken a job at a strip club. Leah is 15 and is nervously anticipating her first time, and when this happens is a bit of a disappointment to her, so she confides in her best girl friend where her experimenting is taken to another stage.
As a male viewer, at times, especially with Georgie's monologues, I felt embarrassed. Not by the content of the speeches, but by the way that the male of the species sees and treats women. This play though personified the drama symbol of the two faces of tragedy and laughter, because both featured very heavily in this one act play.
There were many laughs heard from the younger male members of the audience but I have a feeling there were a few nervous laughs in there as well. Maybe some of the speech touched raw nerves?
The language was more than fruity, and may come as a surprise to some younger males to discover that women, when they get together with other women are as crude and as frank in their language as us men. But there's nothing at all wrong with that and is refreshing to hear in the theatre. That's what makes "The Vagina Monologues" such a success by giving women such a strong voice about sexuality and a stage on which to shout that voice from.
One thing that tied the two women together was the relevance of their fathers and there is one speech where Leah said that all she wanted was a hug from her father. With Georgie, her father also played a big part in her life and the loss of her father was mentioned several times and referenced as being someone who she missed. She is forever seeking male validation to make her feel worthy.
Lara Cowler (Georgie) and Kate O Gorman (Leah) are excellent in their roles and did amazingly well to learn the incredibly wordy scripts in the two weeks that they had leading up to opening night. Two very emotive actors who showed great confidence in the roles, especially as this was Kate's debut for NNT. They both brought out the emotional heartfelt side of the characters as well as the fun, comedic side.
Directed by Niamh Caines, who shone as an actor in several productions from the last season, has shown that sex isn't the rose coloured glasses, romanticised Hollywood movie myth that it's often seen as. The deconstruction of the whole female sex image is refreshing and very natural. It also shows the insecurities between the two women while they are trying to deal with their seperate lives, The insecurities though are universal and timeless.
"Freak" is produced by Lydia Smith. The lighting of this play also plays a large part in highlighting the actors and making it exciting to watch with the music sections. A really imaginative lighting design by Darcey Graham. A busy and eye-catching set design incorporated the two bedrooms of the two women.
"Freak" is a powerful piece of drama and a great start to Nottingham New Theatre's new season, It will make you think, it will make you laugh and hopefully it will get you talking as well, and if you're quite truthful with yourself, it may make you change your attitude towards how you treat people, both male and female attitudes that is.
"Freak" is being performed at the Nottingham New Theatre on the University campus until Saturday 5 November 2016.