Archive review: Nottingham Playhouse. Amateur Girl by Amanda Whittington.

Archive review from a previous theatre blog.

Reviewed Weds 5th 2014

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Amateur Girl by Amanda Whittington is based on real life stories of women who choose to or who are manipulated into getting themselves involved in the amateur porn fantasy business to subsidise a life on a low wage. It is billed as a hard hitting, poignant yet wryly amusing play and the nationwide tour begins at Nottingham Playhouse Neville Studio and compliments another play by Amanda Whittington – My Judy Garland Life – playing in the main auditorium. Amateur Girl is presented by Fifth Word and Nottingham Playhouse and is suitable for those over sixteen.

Whittington’s play began life as a fifteen minute radio drama for Woman’s Hour and was then developed for a one woman show with Hull Truck in 2009. In this production actor Lucy Speed plays Julie, the auxiliary nurse who is persuaded by her already married boyfriend Gary to take a few sexy photos for a top shelf magazine to try and make a bit of extra money and to introduce some ‘fun’ into her life. All does not go as well as she thinks it will and one sexual act leads to another until the slippery road of sexual exploitation gets decidedly dangerous.

This is a brilliantly written drama about a young nurse caring for the elderly and living in a flat in the Victoria Centre known in Nottingham as the Vicky Centre. The play isn’t solely about amateur porn, it’s about who she is as a woman, her emotions, her vulnerability and how she gets to a particular point in her life and how she moves on and reflects back. The writing is fabulous and the play is a contemporary comment on someone struggling to live on a minimum wage and it questions whether the character Julie is a coerced victim of her decisions. The content is dark, yet also funny and it has a great perspective and played with a natural warmth and verve by the talented Lucy Speed who runs the gamut of emotions from cheeky fun loving nurse to a victim of virtual gang rape. Speed’s performance is very compelling and extraordinarily naturalistic amongst the theatrical setting and has great depth of character and totally believable.

The set design is by Eleanor Field and is an angled room on marginally tilted levels with a row of buried toys under the floor boards perhaps alluding to a loss of innocence or a wish for a more innocent life. The sound design by Adam P McCready is particularly effective in introducing other characters and voices into this seventy minute one woman show. The voices are provided by Tanya Myers as Matron and Darren Daly as Gary. The piece is superbly directed by Kate Chapman. An atmospheric lighting design by Alexandra Stafford creates time shifts and mood to terrific effect.

Playing at Nottingham Playhouse Neville Studio until February 8th then touring nationwide.

This review was originally published by www.thepublicreviews.com on Feb 5th 2014

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