By Hemanth Kissoon
“I made it through the wilderness
Somehow I made it through
Didn't know how lost I was
Until I found you”
- lyrics from song LIKE A VIRGIN
Zoe Lewis’ play starring Sadie Frost feels like a taster for something more profound or piercing. A day later after watching, and it is pretty forgettable – her Madgesty’s songs performed as scene interludes providing an aide-mémoire thanks to their pop cultural burrowing into our consciousness. Even as the production concluded (after about 55 minutes), there were the gnawing pangs of dissatisfaction. Having said that, the writing is riddled with zingy one-liners, and Frost commands our intention with a winsome performance. Apart from the singer and pianist/guitar player, it is a one-woman narrative in a chopped up time line where we move between the 1980s, 90s and 00s, depending on the relevance of the recollections and asides.
Frost oscillates from a Liverpedulian accent to Mancunian, New Yorker, Swedish, etc. Lesley is brutally honest in the dissection of her love and family life. Madonna provides the soundtrack to her existence as well as the touchstone. Lesley’s mother is shown not to be a role model, and the daughter looks to the Queen of Pop to fill that void, with less than adequate results. The lead is wittily written, but 25 years condensed into less than an hour proves to be too superficial an experience. It’s a shame, as the playwright appears to be onto something about feminism, adolescence and fame. Weirdly, in the room upstairs at the Soho Theatre is Mike Birbiglia’s MY GIRLFRIEND’S BOYFRIEND – a one-man play covering maybe a decade, which has comparable characteristics: erudition, hilarity and pathos; but is a far more tightly and densely plotted odyssey through relationship misery.
Both TOUCHED…LIKE A VIRGIN and MY GIRLFRIEND’S BOYFRIEND are an hour of romantic pessimism. Both get under the skin of their subjects, but the former just is not close to being nourishing enough.