Old Red Lion Theatre, London – until 15 September 2018
That Girl is Hatty (Hatty Jones) plucked from obscurity to play the lead in what would become a cult children’s film. Now grown up she works in advertising and we find her struggling with adult life transitions.
Her comfortable routine of work, Turkish takeaways and reading fan mail is under threat as her flatmates are moving out and on with their boyfriends. Hatty isn’t the easiest of people to live with – she’s needy, self-centered and manipulative. You do wonder how her friends haven’t run out of patience with her.
But there is also a vulnerability to her, you get glimpses of it when she talks about her coping mechanisms, in her anxiety attacks and the way she grasps for the familiar. There is an immaturity in her behaviour as if she has not been allowed to grow up or perhaps she is trying to reclaim a lost childhood? It leads her to inappropriate behaviour that doesn’t endear her to her friends, isolating her further.
Based on Jones’ own experience – she played the titular character in the film Madeline – there is a glimpse into what life was like for a child actor making a Hollywood film and the subsequent fame.
That Girl manages to be both a unique character study and easily relatable in the way it examines early adulthood. There are one or two clunky moments where the behaviour feels awkwardly contrived but otherwise, That Girl is interesting, well observed, sometimes sad and overall, well done.
It is 60 minutes long without an interval and is at the Old Red Lion Theatre until September 15.