A man and woman meet at the beginning of Paper Doll, it is an awkward homecoming of sorts. Initially we are uncertain as to the nature of the relationship, she is reticent while he is nervous, talking too much to cover this. Soon we realise that they have a host of unfinished business, though she is engaging with him against her better judgement and lets him know that.
He is threatened by her now that she is a woman, as a girl she was his princess, a malleable bundle in pink. Now when she blocks him, he can’t handle it and becomes angry. He is however, a classic manipulator and plays on her emotions to achieve a truce, perhaps even a return to their former relationship.
Katy Warner’s writing takes a troubling but brilliant trip down memory lane as these two characters reminisce – it is at first harmless but his insistence at pushing painfully past the appropriate boundaries is a harrowing and humiliating experience for her. When you realise the true nature of their relationship it is disturbing to watch – Martin Ashley-Jones was exceptional as the man looking for absolution. His unrelenting appeals ultimately alter our perception of him from good guy to repeat offender.
Lucy Goleby was remarkable, she hovers in a delicate state until he pushes her too far and you sense a breakdown is imminent, she does regress for one awful but brief moment. At the end, we are left hovering, much as she was, when their tense standoff ends. Careful direction from Lucy Clements along with impeccable performances are why we persist with these characters in this powerful drama.
Paper Doll is on at the Old Fitz until 18 November, for more details and tickets see: https://www.redlineproductions.com.au/paper-doll/
Featuring: Martin Ashley-Jones and Lucy Goleby.
Creative/Tech Team: Katy Warner (writer), Lucy Clements (director), Lachlan McNab (stage manager), Clemmie Williams (sound design), Rachel Chant (dramaturgy) and Red Line Productions (producers).
Image by Kate Williams