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Dream Girl - Stevenson Theatre Group (Fringe World 2024)

Reviewed by Paul Treasure


One of the perks of being a reviewer is being given the opportunity to explore spaces that would otherwise slip your notice as a regular theatregoer. Stevenson Theatre Group is a relatively new group, performing out of the Koort Centre in Midland. The theatre is a converted industrial space, a very large empty room with a corrugated iron roof, and black curtains surrounding the entire space. This industrial chic ambience lends the space an avant-garde air where you feel that anything could happen, that conventions will be cast aside and to expect the unexpected.

Dream Girl is an interesting piece and one that should be a good fit for such a venue. The play is a coming-of-age tale of two young women who discover that they have fallen in love with each other. The play, as written, is fast-paced in a cinematic style, with many short scenes building up a mosaic of what is happening with the two main characters and the other people in their lives. This current production falls short of living up to the promise of the show.

The chief misstep in this production is that all the scenes are presented in the main centre part of the stage so that in between every one of the scenes the lights go down, the set is quickly changed, and the lights come back up. In what could have been such a fast-paced show, any sense of momentum was killed again and again with each successive blackout and scene change, to the point some scenes seemed shorter than the scene changes that surrounded them. The acting space at Stevenson is large enough that it could easily have accommodated different acting areas within the space and flitted between them, changing the setting in one area while the acting was occurring in another. Many of the scenes could easily have been done without any furniture at all. The cleverest piece of the staging was a projection screen at the back of the space, where a number of scenes were played out as text conversations. This worked very well and was perhaps the one thing about the entire production that impressed me most.

Due to the cinematic nature of the script, it was very difficult to develop a feel and empathy for the characters unless the actors had put in a lot of work developing their characters beyond what was just put down on the stage for them. The best example of this was Megan Lilley as Jess. Megan gave us a very well-rounded portrayal of one of the two leads, totally convincing that their character had a life beyond the pages of the script. They played the part with nuance and elicited genuine emotion, especially in the scenes where they faced their disapproving parents. Jasmine Ward, as Belinda was also totally believable in her role. There was an air of not quite believing what was going on in her girlfriend's life, made more palpable by her having the total support of her own family.

Kaitlin Barry, as the loving and supportive mother of Sarah, was also exceptional in their role, as was Tyler Hewitt as the little brother Sean. Tyler is considerably older than the role he was playing but played the role with a conviction that we very quickly forgot and forgave the age difference and just accepted him in that role. On the whole, it felt like there could have been a lot more work on characterisation, as the majority of the cast did not give us any more than what was given in the

script, and presented as actors merely reading lines, rather than fully realised characters.

This play has a lot to say, and a lot of it that is worth saying. It is relevant and timely but ultimately some of the choices in the actual production limited its ability to rise to the level of its ambitions.

Reviewer Note: Tickets for this review were provided by the theatre company.


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