Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"The Girl in the Yellow Dress" - October 2010

"The Girl in the Yellow Dress" featured in our early plans for this year's Edinburgh Fringe but we decided to wait and catch it in its post-Fringe run at the Citizens. Craig Higginson's tale set in Paris presents us with a French student of African origin who has arranged private language tuition with a young English woman but it quickly becomes clear that there's a lot going on under the surface of both Pierre and Celia. Over the course of five short acts we watch as their secrets are revealed and the balance of power shifts between the two.

I don't really want to give too much away about the plot and issues involved, but will comment that there were times I felt it opted for an unnecessarily sensationalist approach. But then, the beauty of this piece is as much in the telling as in the tale. I loved Higginson's use of language and Marianne Oldham and Nat Ramabulana really make the most of it - including Oldham delivering a marvellous audition piece for a female version of Sir Humphrey Appleby. The power of the writing and the performances was brought home to me when I found myself desperately pulling for a happy ending for these two damaged souls.

Watching the show in the Citizens Circle studio I was struck by how out of place it seems. I can't recall seeing such a fully realised set in the space before, and while the audience certainly benefits from getting up close to the action, in many respects it feels as if it would be more at home as a main stage production.

Waldorf wasn't 100% convinced that the narrative merited the obvious effort put into the dialogue, performances and staging; but for me this is a beautifully crafted and considered piece of theatre that would grace any stage.

The Girl in the Yellow Dress is a Co-production by the Citizens, Live Theatre (Newcastle) and The Market Theatre (South Africa)
It has now completed its run.
Image by Ruphin Coudyzer used with permission