Theatre review: Virgin, Watford Palace Theatre
Monday 30 September 2013
Fittingly for a play which is in part about the difficulties of saying what you think, Virgin is a little unclear as to what it thinks it is saying. EV Crowe’s play aims to explore how far our online lives mirror our offline ones, but the internet felt strangely incidental to her story. It could just as easily have been a marketing project for better roads, or a new hospital, and not a scheme to roll out broadband to rural communities, that the play’s central character, Emily (Laura Elphinstone), is trying to convince her male employers to let her lead. In fact, the play is often at its best when it deals straightforwardly with gender politics in the workplace and when the internet is left, so to speak, unconnected.
This is frustrating as, of the play’s many underdeveloped themes, whether the internet has been a good or bad thing for feminism, has given women confidence or fostered their insecurities, has created a forum for decrying sexism or normalised regressive patriarchal values, is potentially the most interesting. Emily’s abrasive, broadband-savvy houseguest, Sally (Rosie Wyatt), worries about being overweight, and calls Emily’s mildly geeky husband ‘weird’ for staying at home looking after the baby. According to Sally, the trade-off for being able to book train tickets faster is to be told you look like a ‘fat whore’ in photos. The internet, she says, is like a ‘massive penis,’ the moment you fully realise its aggressive invasive power is the moment your virtual hymen is broken. What then does this mean for feminism? Unfortunately Crowe’s exegesis penetrates no further.
Laura Elphinstone’s high energy performance as Emily gives the narrative some much needed drive. Her scenes with predatory work colleague, Thomas (a well-observed turn from Simon Darwen), are among the most successful in the play and best showcase Crowe’s uncanny ability to capture casual speech and workplace jargon.
There are many nice touches, but not enough to compensate for the flimsiness of a drama which ultimately fails to say much more than sometimes the internet can be a good thing and other times not so good, and that a few men are patriarchal bastards.
26 September – 19 October
Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
‘Remember the attackers are a cold-blooded, crazy minority’, says Blek le Rat
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 3 UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
- 4 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 5 Men behaving badly: Urinating while standing, 'manspreading' and the gendering of selfishness
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
Benedict Cumberbatch says Hollywood is better for black British actors: 'I think as far as coloured actors go it gets really difficult in the UK'
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction
Pixie Geldof signs recording deal with Stranger Records
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd