Ginger Hibiscus | Ginger Hibiscus | REVIEW: The Goodbye Girl at Upstairs at the Gatehouse
Ginger Hibiscus | REVIEW: The Goodbye Girl at Upstairs at the Gatehouse
Ginger Hibiscus | REVIEW: The Goodbye Girl at Upstairs at the Gatehouse
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13 Feb REVIEW: The Goodbye Girl at Upstairs at the Gatehouse

When Paula’s boyfriend dumps her, and she and her daughter are left homeless and penniless, she decides the best thing for it is to stay put, in her ex’s apartment, and tell the man that’s sublet the place he can’t move in. Only, as the tenant of the apartment, it’s up to him who comes and goes, and he and Paula just can’t seem to get along…So does anyone have any guesses what happens next? I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise for you, but given I’ve just summarised the first hour of The Goodbye Girl, it’s not exactly surprises aplenty.

My problem with The Goodbye Girl is nothing to do with this production, but rather something far more fundamental with the show. With a storyline that makes clockwork seem spontaneous and exciting, and forgettable songs that add nothing to the progression of said storyline but merely fluff out nothingy moments that are already lingered over for too long, no matter how good the casting or musical direction, I’m going to find it impossible to love it. Throw into the mix a 2.5 hour run time and hideously uncomfortable seats that will have your rear end aching even before the lights dim, and you’re in for a long night.

Let’s be clear. Playing the lead, Rebecca Bainbridge sings well, holding the stage with a gorgeous charisma. But that can only go so far when the character she plays, the heroine of the piece, is not only impossible to warm to but quite frankly has an attitude problem. A single “mom” with a teenage daughter, she bounces around between patriarchs, springing from man to man to look after her and her daughter, to put a roof over their heads, feed them and clothe them, because the unemployed dancer doesn’t have the nouse to go and get a different job. It drives me crazy how she’s so damned dependent on the men in her life; there are so many amazing single “moms” in the world – why couldn’t we have a sassy, independent woman that supports her family herself? Instead we’re lumbered with one that talks the talk but never manages to walk the walk.

On top of characters that make dishwater seem technicoloured, the cringeworthy Hollywood-esque ending is brimming with lines cheesier than an 80’s fondue party, but without the exhilaration of some baked-Alaska-shaped jeopardy. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Special mention has to go to Shannon Beach a young actress playing Paula’s daughter, who makes a jaw-dropping professional debut, an awesomely talented vocalist and a breath of fresh air to watch. In fact, the ensemble performances are strong across the board, with a nod to some creative staging and a couple of enjoyable dance numbers that lift the show up by the scruff of its neck.

Leaving, my overarching feeling was that I really just wish the whole team could have been putting on a different show. I love musical theatre, I love fringe theatre, and there are some really talented cast and creatives in that team, who weren’t given the opportunity to shine. I liked the set. I liked the lighting. I liked the choreography and the energy in the dance numbers. I liked the band on stage. But when you take a dull story and add unremarkable musical numbers, I just can’t love it. Sad to say that possibly the most amazing thing about The Goodbye Girl is that anyone thinks it’s curious that it’s never found its feet in a large-scale production.

Venue: Upstairs at the Gatehouse
Dates: 4th – 28th February 2015
For tickets and information:

Star Rating

Ginger Hibiscus don’t like using stars as a headline; we think they’re too reductionist, and that decision-making based on stars misses the point of a review. Just as you wouldn’t judge a personality using a five-point scale, theatre is multi-dimensional. So have a read, and then look at the stars afterwards.
Okay, fine, but how many stars do you give it? Click here