I invited myself to the opening night of Gone Dottie at UCT’s Arena last night for two reasons. I really wanted to see Emily Child perform and I also remember wanting to be Dorothy Parker for most of my young adult life. There is something deeply appealing about the kind of misery that one makes rhyming poems about. It’s clever, amusing, heartfelt and just so fashionable, especially when it’s accompanied by a bit of a drinking problem.
Emily Child did not disappoint. She is like a strong magnet. I really enjoyed her performance. I thought her characterisation was excellent, her capturing of the style fantastic, her voice and accent really convincing and very possibly Dorothy like. Bravo Emily.
I also need to mention Andrew Laubscher, who plays the many silent men that Dorothy plays off. It’s the third time I’ve seen him and as they say in the programme, "Oh! He’s charming!" And very funny.
So why was I just a leetle (she whispers softly to her friend) bored? I think the text itself is not 100% successful. It is made up of bits and pieces of her writing; stories, poems and a few famous quotations, but it struggled to hang together coherently. Then I also had questions about the direction. Luke Ellenbogen directs, and he manages to create a wonderful style for the piece. The feel and look of it are excellent. I enjoyed the little silent movies and his staging was great. I just think the show was too evenly paced, which made it feel a bit repetitive. At times it felt like it could have been louder, faster, quieter; that the rhythm, even of Dorothy’s speech, could have been more sharply contrasted. It felt like all the pauses were the same length.
I did love the styling of the foyer, and the gorgeous poppies as well as the glamorous catering after the show.
Doing any show based on Dorothy Parker sets up the company for being ‘thrown with Dorothy quotes’. Here is mine. "Every year, back comes Spring, with nasty little birds yapping their fool heads off and the ground all mucked up with plants." It’s got nothing to do with anything. I just like it.