FRINGEWORLD 2019: Paper Doll | 5 Stars

Review | Laura Money

Gripping from the very start, Paper Doll is confusing, intense, and packs an emotional punch. A man stands at a woman’s front door, dripping wet and clutching at a plastic bag. He is expected but still shocks her. Martin Ashley Jones and Hayley Pearl are absolutely flawless in this two-hander that will put your guts in a vice and slowly squeeze. Jones is welcomed in and immediately things are awkward. You can’t quite work out their relationship – ex-lovers? Father and daughter? As the play progresses it becomes clear that the answer is somewhat more sinister.

It is clear that Pearl is on edge – her tone is light and airy, but her eyes bulge out of her head in fear and she approaches Jones with a wariness borne of pain. She clearly doesn’t want to get hurt again. Jones is phenomenal. He speaks to Pearl as if approaching a frightened animal. His words trip and stumble in nervousness – revealing a tenderness unexpected in someone so rough. He is like a pressure cooker, fighting to hold back his intensity – but there are moments when the steam escapes and we glimpse the monster underneath. Jones is quite simply, acting his heart out and I could watch him all night long.

Paper Doll is not for the faint-hearted. It is intense. It peels back layer after layer and reveals at its heart a twisted knot of thorns. Playwright Katy Warner was inspired by Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge and has stripped back the key relationship in the play. The language takes you on a rollercoaster of emotion – from sweet and almost cautionary first love, to hatred and resentment, fear, and affection. Jones and Pearl pour their hearts out onstage every night. Their stuttering and inability to complete sentences whilst talking over each other not only create a realistic feeling but intensifies the gritty reality of the action.

If you like your theatre intellectually and emotionally stimulating, do not miss out on this gripping psychological thriller, played to perfection by two actors at the top of their game.

WHEN: 12 – 16 February 2019 | 8:00pm

WHERE: The Main Space | The Blue Room Theatre | FRINGE CENTRAL

INFO: Tickets $24 – $28 | Duration 45m | Age suitability: M | Content warning: Occasional coarse language, Sexual Assault, Sexual References | THEATRE


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