Denise Van Outen has the charisma and ability to comfortably hold an audience on her own for an evening. Garnering a standing ovation from a handful of fans at the end of the show is evidence enough the audience enjoyed the final
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act too. Anyone expecting more than a second rate teenage melodrama alongside their helping of first rate star will be sorely disappointed, however.
JM Barrie tells us that whenever anyone says “I don’t believe in fairies” another of the sparky little critters dies, sitting in the audience last night you had to wonder if another feminist loses yet another step towards equal footing each night that Van Outen’s character, Steph, stands on stage giving away her power to a sleazy ex-boyfriend or her whiny husband.
Co-written with Terry Ronald, the script is apparently semi-autobiographical. It’s hard to believe that Van Outen’s life has, thus far, been so boring that an ill-fated teen romance was the only highlight and that her hard won career success was handed to her on a plate because of the support of her husband.
Comparing this one woman show to the slew of other shows out there designed for the same market, Some Girl I Used To Know falls depressingly short.
The cozy chat that Jane McDonald pulls her audiences in with, is only half heartedly attempted by Van Outen, the saucy, jokey antics of the likes of the Grumpy Old Women tour are grasped at but come off as blokey and the show ends on too sad a note to emulate the fun, girly dramas that do the rounds in their masses.
The set is plush and director Michael Howcroft does a reasonable job, yet not quite enough to reconcile the disconnect between Van Outen’s CD ready, emotionless voice and engaged, Essex girl acting.
Van Outen’s show, though, does cause one to daydream about what hanging out in a real underwear mogul’s hotel room would be like, would Michelle Mone or Jacqueline Gold be mooning about on their mobile phone over a lost love? Or would you be glugging a glass of fizz, giggling about the content of their latest underwear focus group comments and turning up the radio for a boogie in a brief moment of respite from balancing family and work life?
• Run ends tomorrow