The Revlon Girl
Written by: Neil Anthony Docking
Directed by: Corinna Bennett
Running at Gryphon Theatre until 5th Sep 2020
Reviewed by: Aimee Smith
The Revlon Girl picks up in the disaster’s wake, as a small group of mothers come together for support following the loss of their children. Sian (Lydia Marston) has the idea to bring in a Revlon girl (Hannah Blue) to remind them how to feel bright and beautiful again. The well-meaning Revlon girl finds herself out of her depth, as some mothers can’t see how lipstick could help to heal the loss of a child.Whilst a history lesson isn’t necessary to be impacted by The Revlon Girl, having some knowledge of the horrific Aberfan Disaster helps. If you haven’t caught up on the latest season of The Crown, here is a brief explanation: in 1966, in the Welsh village of Aberfan, a giant tip collapsed and a flood of coal waste buried a primary school, killing 116 children and 28 adults. The disaster wasn’t a freak accident, it was the result of years of man-made errors.
A dense character piece, The Revlon Girl examines each mother’s differing experience of grief from her spot in the makeup chair. Each character is set up as a bit of a mystery, guarding her grief behind her own unique set of walls. Unravelling the characters is a slow and rewarding experience that culminates in a few well-earned tears from the audience.
Stagecraft’s production does an excellent job of leaving the lily un-gilded. Set (Amy Whitehead), lighting (Angela Wei), and sound (Corinna Bennett and Riley Gibson) largely serve to ground the piece in its 60s village setting. Costume (Jen Pearce and Meredith Dooley) works in a similar vein, with the cast wearing day dresses and cardigans that would remind many of their mother and grandmother’s wardrobe (with the exception of the Revlon girl, whose mod looks lifted from a magazine spread). Instead, performance, character, and the brilliance of the text are left to do the heavy lifting – a choice that allows me to become transfixed in the superb storytelling.