Good Girl at Trafalgar Studios 2
From Fringe to West End, with a Vault Festival stop in between, the upward journey of Good Girl, Naomi Sheldon’s raw and darkly comical account of growing up with anxiety, is a testament to its strength. The factor that wins the audience over is that the narrative is genuine and unapologetically honest, and many will relate to the wider themes it touches upon.
Theatre and stand-up comedy come together in this one-woman show that traverses the entire adolescence and early adulthood of protagonist GG. A selection of episodes relating to friendship, loneliness, puberty, sexual awakening and living up to expectations are told candidly, leaving the audience to surmise the severity of the emotional impact they have on GG as her feelings silently avalanche inside her year after year.
GG begins to notice very early on that there’s discord between the intensity of what she feels and how she is expected to react and behave in the world around her. She goes through new and sometimes testing life experiences while trying to maintain an air of calm and control, but secretly she struggles against a ball of emotion in her stomach that she feels might explode at any point. She develops a coping mechanism that consists of suppressing all feelings and for many years she is desensitised, but impending doom, in the form of total overwhelm, seems to be waiting for her at every corner.
The show relies fully on the storytelling. The stage is bare and movement is kept to a minimum. Sheldon is full of energy and her facial expressions and accents are spot on, but overall, the play suffers from being too static and it can feel more like a successful stand-up number than a theatrical piece. As far as comedy goes, Sheldon knows how to keep the audience amused, and numerous references to 90s pop culture will make many smile. The universal theme of inner emotions clashing with the world outside is a powerful one, although its exploration can only go so far in the space of one hour.
While Good Girl is focussed solely on episodes and perhaps not meaty enough in terms of content, GG’s voice needs to be heard as she doubtless speaks for many. Her intimate tone and no-filter confessions indirectly raise questions as to where emotions fit within society, as well as what could be done to help young people handle theirs.
Photo: Felicity Crawshaw
Good Girl is at Trafalgar Studios from 5th until 31st March 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.