Bye-Bye Barbie

Perspective Theatre Company
The Casa, Hope Street, Monday 4th April

Reviewed by Julian Bond

“Barbie lives in a world of handsome princes and and film stars I wish I did”

This in fact was a preview of the full play written by Liverpool writer Peter Penlington, directed by Helen Mault which is due to be performed at Edinburgh this year.

What we were given was an extended monologue by actress Donna Price as a Liverpool prostitute locked up in a police cell for the umpteenth time for one petty crime or another. The monologue is a combination of diatribe against the hypocrisies of judges and police who use the street girls themselves whilst condemning them later, memories of the prostitute when a young girl and scenarios from her day to day life, punters and pimps.

The whole thing was very well brought off. The writing was a combination of the searing and the funny, absurd or angry at different moments (the writer based ‘Bye Bye Barbie on conversations he had had with various prostitutes and had used their thoughts verbatim, combining them into one character). Donna Price was excellent in portraying the pent up and anger and frustration of the prostitute, tender one moment, vicious the next. With no little versatility she took on half a dozen ‘characterizations’, moving from a fat slob of a punter, to a vicious pimp, to a condescending judge, returning at will to the loneliness of her life and her cell.

It’s a necessarily harsh and hard play to watch and so it should be. We are shown all the niceties of young girls, most, if not of all, of whom have been abused in care homes – “Bye-Bye Barbie, Hello Heroin” the ten year old would be prostitute declares - before ending up on drugs and on the street. So we have girls giving blowjobs for cigarettes, beaten and sold by abusive pimps. It’s a bleak portrait, which is justified because it is real life for this city and this countries under-class, passed by the culture vultures on their way to the next performance of Shakespeare or Mozart. This is a brilliantly abrasive play, scrubbing away at the layers of corruption.

So forget the nonsense and the chitchat, this is a must see play. Especially relevant for Edinburgh, plagued as it has been by a long standing heroin epidemic.

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