A Girl in a Car with a Man

Bob Evans
Young Playwrights Season
Royal Court Theatre Upstairs
(2004)

Production shot from A Girl in a Car with a Man

The last play in the Royal Court Young Playwrights' Season 2004 is an existential piece that defies all attempts to grasp meaning.

On over a dozen screens, the audience sees a little girl on closed-circuit TV. She meets a man who could be a relation or might be an abductor, gets into the car and disappears from our story.

Over the next 1¾ hours, the play then looks at five individuals who have limited interrelationships. A woman who works on a TV shopping channel modelling tat arrives, soaked, at the house of a Scotsman whose life is on hold. His girlfriend has died of an unnamed illness and this former photographer has neither a job nor, it would seem, a purpose in life.

Quite why the woman should have driven 500 miles from London to a barren part of Scotland is never explained. Her life seems a quandary but she at least helps her host to move back towards a normal relationship with society.

The second pairing is a woman who watches close circuit TV for the police and a particularly prosaic policeman. They have been assigned to work on the little girl case and eventually discover that she has disappeared into a kind of Bermuda Triangle between cameras.

All of the humour in the play is derived from a monologue delivered to a hand-held camera by Alex, a mad-eyed, narcissistic gay man, well played by Andrew Scott. We hear of his jaunts around Edinburgh with friends, all of which are related with a dry wit.

A Girl in a Car with a Man is directed by award-winning young director Joe Hill-Gibbins who struggles to ensure that the audience in the round get their fair share of good angles. The connections between the videos and the five characters are never apparent, although it would seem that the underlying link may be connected to people's inherent need to act as exhibitionists and voyeurs in today's camera-dominated society.

It is rare for the Royal Court to have a play that does not either challenge, entertain or, more usually, do both. The point of A Girl in a Car with a Man is so far obscured that, regrettably, for many it may prove to be that rarity.

This review originally appeared on Theatreworld in a slightly different version

Reviewer: Philip Fisher