Expertise overview – Victoria Wooden drama tackles the squalid aspect of movie star
It is a world of mirror balls and knee-high boots. Of Babycham and Woodbines. Of tacky magic acts and selection nights – a world the late Victoria Wooden knew nicely, having minimize her enamel in Birmingham people golf equipment earlier than touchdown her huge break on the expertise present New Faces.
In her 1978 play, written for Julie Walters and premiered on the Crucible, that is additionally a world she seems to be again on with a attribute mix of affection and caustic eye for element.
The set-up is straightforward: Julie Stephens is a 24-year-old workplace employee who has handed the audition for a spot in a expertise contest. Turning up at Bunters nightclub with the rating for Cabaret, she and her much less adventurous buddy Maureen smoke away the backstage nerves, interrupted by a succession of fellow acts. For all Julie’s dreamy ambition, the scene is extra squalid than glamorous.
In Paul Foster’s good-natured manufacturing, Lucie Shorthouse does a effective job, catching not solely the rhythms of Wooden’s deadpan supply but additionally the bemused smile of the harmless outsider endlessly bewildered by human nature. She has an entertaining foil in Jamie-Rose Monk as Maureen, the half as soon as performed by Wooden, her timid manner contrasting with the drive of her voice within the present’s scattering of wry songs.
Janet Fowl’s set of sawn-off bins seems to be cluttered as soon as the gold lamé material has been eliminated however, with its singed edges and remnants of promoting posters, provides to the tawdry ambiance. Our age of on the spot fame has made the concepts acquainted, however in 1978, Wooden was forward of the curve in her observations on the attract of movie star and the seediness of a enterprise that trades in glamour.
She additionally has darker observations concerning the sexual exploitation of girls and ladies, though on this pre-#MeToo period, Julie lacks the language to specific these herself. As an underage schoolgirl, she was made pregnant by an older man. Now, as a wannabe star, she is propositioned for intercourse by a sleazy compere promising to assist her get forward within the occupation. It’s a slight play with an unsure momentum, however it’s testomony to Wooden that she may discipline such weighty content material in so breezy a kind.
Expertise is at Crucible theatre, Sheffield till 24 July and is live-streamed on 7 July.