Trafalgar Studios, London – until 23 November 2019
We can only judge the dead through the narratives of others. When those narratives contain a level of both culpability and finger-pointing, who are we to believe? And should it matter when the dead girl at the heart of their concerns is a 15-year-old who committed suicide by jumping from a road bridge?
Sarah Rutherford looks at the big picture through the small detail in her dense but beguiling new play, The Girl Who Fell. We first meet Sam through the ruminations of her best friend Billie and Billie’s twin brother Lenny, who was sort-of-dating Sam until she posted sexy pics of herself online. They both think that was slutty.
Then there’s Sam’s mum, Thea, a prison chaplain who took out her frustrations with Sam’s behaviour by chopping off her daughter’s beautiful red hair – a video of which went tragically viral. How does Gill, the elegant but wasted anaesthetist that chats up Thea in a coffee shop, complete the picture?
Is Sam another statistic from the roll call of teens taken to the brink by online exposure?
There are so many lines of inquiry and so many coincidental releases of information in The Girl Who Fell that it becomes uneven and convoluted. One isn’t sure what Rutherford is trying to say about the teenager’s death. Is Sam another statistic from the roll call of teens taken to the brink by online exposure, or was there a point during the build-up where she might have been saved? Should her family and friends have been more vigilant? Should they have been kinder?
What keeps you in your seat for nearly two hours without an interval, is Hannah Price’s excellent direction, and Rutherford’s rounded characters. There is a constant sense of movement on stage with humour, sadness, and music driving even the scene changes. The four actors are compelling, holding the bar high when the storyline goes rogue.
Claire Goose and Navin Chowdhry as Thea and Gill give us a stand-alone drama, bringing a lightness of touch and a depth of sorrow that almost renders the rest of the narrative unnecessary. Rosie Day and Will Fletcher’s funny and self-revealing double act as Billie and Lenny also feels complete in itself.
The Girl Who Fell runs from 15 October to 23 November 2019 at Trafalgar Studios 2, 14 Whitehall, London SW1A 2DY, with performances Mondays to Saturdays at 7.45pm, Thursday and Saturday matinees at 3pm. Tickets are priced £20-£35. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!