The Girl Who

Scott Gilmour and Claire McKenzie

Royal Scottish Conservatoire

Assembly George Square Gardens

From 31 July 2014 to 25 August 2014

Rating: ****

Review by Liam Blain

A show that investigates the choices we make should be one of your chosen shows to see this year at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Back for their annual stint at this year’s festival, The Royal Scottish Conservatoire’s second show (their other musical being The Addams Family at Assembly) The Girl Who is a superbly directed musical even if some of the writing and concept need a tiny little bit more work.

The piece follows the journey of Anna (Neshla Caplan) as she searches new lands and seas for her parents, who have mysteriously vanished through a tree in her garden. The expedition is steered by audience choices and decisions made (supposedly) separately from the storyline of the piece.

Every decision that Anna must make freezes time and a strange “Willy Wonka-esque” Clown (Curtis Brown) begins to narrate events. The decisions are decided in a number of ways including audience arm wrestling and the popping of a balloon. However, you can’t help but feel at times the cast have a pre-determined outcome of what they hope will occur.

For example, at one point Brook (Martin Murphy) a downtrodden Mulch City citizen, plays a game of noughts and crosses with an audience member to decide the path Anna must choose. It is the most over-dramatic game of noughts and crosses I have ever seen but it is exceedingly obvious that Murphy let the spectator win.

I questioned the pre-determined decision making a couple of times and it really marred my view of the spontaneous nature of Scott Gilmour and Claire McKenzie’s writing.

However, that said, the cast are superb, being able to multi-role as many different characters throughout the production, including pirates, urchins and prisoners. The staging is extremely clever, with director, Andrew Panton placing microphones around the room and having different cast members sing the solos, turning every song into an exciting game of hide-and-seek for the vocalist.

The creation of leader, Lord Screwtape, out of a suitcase, a lampshade and an actor’s lower body was also a superb directorial decision and Andrew Perry must be complimented for his superb vocals to the obscure puppet. The music is also extremely catchy with some beautiful harmonies coming through in full company numbers.

The message at the end of the play, to accept or regret your decisions is hammered home quite strongly but I do question why the decision for Anna to live or die is even up for debate at the conclusion of the piece. Having her die (as when I saw the production) removes most of the piece’s purpose but the gimmick of how that decision is made can be commended.

I do feel like you miss out with this production as you only see half of the possible areas Anna can visit, but that just means that I will have to go again and hope for different decisions.

The Girl Who YOU MUST GO SEE” although less subtle than the title is a very truthful statement.