Part of the Camden Fringe festival which marks its 16th year, Dolls & Guys explores a dystopian world where women in a shop wait to be picked by the one and live happily ever after. Directed by Julia Sudzinsky and written by Sabean Bea and Alanna Flynn, the story focuses on five characters, Juliet, Lucy, Soraya, Maggie and Billie and explores their struggles to navigate love, life and dating.
As we see the group break up and reunite as male customers (all played by Nicholas Pople) come through the door, one thing that remains the same are their friendships. We see how the characters bond over their shared experiences when the men are not around and was undoubtedly the highlight of the show. The awkward but intelligent Juliet (Sabean Bea) and her heart-warming interactions with tomboy Billie (Dorothea Jones) who struggles with their gender identity, shows that we can all find common ground no matter how different we may seem.
The play also explores the darker side of dating and the pressures to find someone before it’s too late, Violet Verigo encapsulates this perfectly as Lucy, who is desperate to please the male customers, and she slowly unravels as the story goes on. Verigo was at times, hard to watch as Lucy’s growing exhaustion with playing the perfect girlfriend is painfully relatable.
Alongside some tender interactions, there were plenty of funny moments too. Jones stole the show as Billie, with an onslaught of hilarious one-liners that perfectly lightened the mood when needed. Carol Parradine as Maggie, who, although had been ‘left on the shelf’ for a long time as she put it, something many women can relate to, her titbits of her former life were enjoyable. Kerry Boyne as the strong-willed Soraya was also fun to watch and she certainly brought a confident energy that we could all use when navigating these often-challenging situations.
Dolls & Guys is a dark comedy exploring modern dating and love with a twist, although the feminist message of being happy as you are and not changing yourself for a man is a timeless one, the play’s strong cast, funny moments and lovely friendships offer an entertaining take on the trope.
Reviewer: Gemma Prince
Reviewed: 12th August 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★