Hatty is a former international child film star. Now in her late 20s, she has a reliable but unremarkable job in advertising where the highlight of the day seems to be choosing what to have for lunch from the extensive range in the staff canteen. Hatty is That Girl, currently running at The Old Red Lion pub theatre in Islington, and is loosely based on writer Hatty Jones’ own experiences of life after early fame.
That Girl is a strong playwriting debut from Jones who also sparkles in the lead role. Crackling with smart, contemporary dialogue and laugh out loud oneliners, “Adam, you entered our lives through Tinder!” and “ I fancy a sausage roll…..you can have a bite of mine!” this play says as much about the millennial generation to which its writer belongs as it does about the fate of a former child star who is forced to grow up.
Jones captures Hatty’s persisting belief that the world revolves around her and her growing bewilderment at the realisation that in adulthood, she is no longer the centre of everyone’s attention – at work, at home, to her friends and to their boyfriends!
The two supporting cast members put in equally creditable performances which add to the essence of the piece. Alex Reynolds shows suitable hipster enthusiasm as new account manager, Lola and then doubles up to play Hatty’s long suffering housemate, Poppy. Indeed, it is earnest, idealistic Poppy who seems to engender more sympathy than the needy Hatty at times.
Will Adolphy completes the cast also playing dual roles. He is convincing as Poppy’s new boyfriend, Adam who enjoys a brief moment with the flirtatious Hatty over a shared love of avocados. However, he appears more comfortable as Dylan, Hatty’s self-interested Tinder date.
Credit has to go to Director Tim Cook for bringing such an engaging piece of contemporary theatre to the stage in just five weeks. The intimacy of the Old Red Lion pub theatre is an ideal setting for the action which is primarily based in the archetypal tiny London shared flat. It also means the audience is sharing the space with the actors and are able to sense the characters’ moods from their actions as much as their words. The work of the specialist Movement Director, Roman Berry is very much in evidence.
This is a play which speaks for a generation – one familiar with the cult of celebrity, digital communication and “brunch as a hobby”. However, its theme of discovering the adult world is not the sheltered cocoon of childhood, is a timeless phenomenon which we can all relate to.
Hatty Jones – I think we will be hearing more about That Girl!