That Girl – REVIEW

That Girl

Old Red Lion Theatre, London

 

Seen September 5th, 2018

Reviewed by Mark Sykes

★★★★

That Girl, written and starring Hatty Jones, is a moving story about fame, love and friendship, and how the sands of time can erode a bond that was expected to last a lifetime.

Hatty Jones was, at the tender age of 10 years old, the child star of the movie Madeline. Thrust into the limelight alongside established actors Nigel Hawthorne and Frances McDormand, this early start to acting sets the initial premise for ‘That Girl’. The story then jumps forward almost 20 years to the present day, with the show’s lead character Hatty sharing an apartment with Polly (Alex Reynolds), her friend since childhood.

Hatty now has a job in advertising but seemingly can’t let go of her moment of ‘childhood fame’, using every opportunity that presents itself to orate on her past success. It is this struggle to leave her past behind and to focus on the future that comes to a head as Hatty and Polly prepare to move from their current abode. Whilst all of their belongings are boxed up ready for moving day, Hatty frustratingly seems not quite ready to let go.

Alongside this, Hatty struggles to find a loving relationship, relying on Tinder to engage with future male prospects. It is this search for love that leads Poppy to catch her boyfriend (Will Adolphy) in a compromising position with Hatty. This, understandably, puts a strain on Hatty and Polly’s friendship and moving out of their flat provides the trigger for them to go their separate ways. At the end, after a near lifetime of friendship, this is a sad ending that leaves neither of them happy.

With a growing difference on priorities and perspectives of life, That Girl is a story that shows how time can erode a friendship no matter how strong the bonds that hold it together. Hatty Jones has written a sharp and witty script that is expertly played by the three key protagonists and directed by Tim Cook. Whilst inspired by her own experiences, you’re never totally sure how much of an autobiographical story of Hatty Jones this is; but that’s no bad thing as you can use your own imagination to determine where the lines of reality are drawn.

What Hatty Jones does is tell a story about friendship that many people will be able to relate to. It certainly had me thinking back to the late 80’s when I moved to London at the age of 22 and was sharing a house with two others. Friendships were formed, tensions arose, we laughed, cried and got drunk(!) but eventually the passage of time inevitably leads to people going their own separate ways. Hatty Jones has captured this and more.

It always feels a bit strange when a show ends but you’re not really sure if it is the end, or if another scene will follow. Unfortunately ‘That Girl’ ends just like that, but in a way that is a good thing! I was left wanting to know what happens next; what stage of her life is Hatty at in 5 or 10 years’ time. I hope Hatty will invite us back for the next chapter as I want to know if she finds true love and if she and Poppy can rekindle their friendship.

With a now extended but still limited run, That Girl is at the Old Lion Theatre until September 15th. Tickets and more information can be found here.

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