Georgia Brown’s playwrighting debut is strong but seems to lack purpose and energy.
Based on a true story this has been marketed as a look at British prison life, the issue is that Brown’s two-hander, with Mark Wingett (Jim Carver in The Bill) as her jailbird father Terry doesn’t even touch the surface of what it is really like to be in prison and most of what we hear of Terry’s time is second/third hand information.
The strength is Brown’s writing is the aspect of loneliness her portrayal of Eliza is a millennial living alone in London, as aside the question of how she can do this is a temp is barely touched up and only briefly is the issue of eviction brought up and Terry’s loneliness in prison as he manages to source a mobile and bothers his daughter after two years of no contact.
There’s a lot of humour but the performances at times felt too over the top and Brown includes an incredibly indulgent scene of her singing. Whilst I understand the need to provide work for yourself in this very tough climate her writing is full of confusing aspects, such as Songs of Praise on a Friday and Strictly Come Dancing on Sunday, to be convinced by her debut and it feels more like a showcase for her acting, which just isn’t as strong as her writing.
There are some lovely flashback scenes, Brown is better at playing young Eliza and her mother Nicole than she is her main character, but it feels to unfinished, Wingett’s Terry just isn’t that complex or interesting but as a production it uses its space well. There is some great video design by Alex Vipond, such as the text messages Eliza receives, the flashbacks to Nicole from Terry’s point of view and the hardcore porn Eliza resorts to watching and it is nice to see video design used to enhance a story rather than enhance a set.
Alice Martin’s direction does feel uninspired from a director used to work with small sets and the relatively large theatre space just isn’t utilised to full effect. Overall it feels like Brown has an interesting story to tell but for some reason has held back. We never fully understand why he got life and crucially we never fully understand why they keep coming back into each other’s lives. He’s been a poor father and as a result she’s a disinterested daughter. I hope this short season inspires Brown to develop the story better.
Daddy’s Girl ended on 28 January 2017