Writer Georgia Coles-Riley presents her one-woman-play about Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Good Time Girl, a riotous comedy that promises to be a source of much debate at this year’s Cardiff Fringe.
Do you remember the episode of Friends where Chandler is tricked into watching a one woman show? The play begins with an intense looking woman shouting forcefully into the audience: “Chapter One. My First Period”. As a set up for a joke, I find it pretty funny. As an artist, it’s stoked a lifelong insecurity in me in writing a one woman show. After all, what reasonable person would make the choice to sit through an hour where a woman will most likely cover the topics of menstruation, her vagina, her trauma, or, if you’re really unlucky, all three? Perhaps in combination? (To be perfectly honest, I found it quite hard to even just type that word. Vagina. Let alone to hear it said out loud by a perfect stranger).
But as any motivational poster will tell you, you should face your fears. Live your dreams. Even if your dreams involve public humiliation. Which is why I’m bringing a one woman show to the Cardiff Fringe Lab.
(There’s a reason, by the way, that the stereotype depicted in that Friends episode exists: a lot of women artists address their periods in their art. And that is because periods are totally mental. Frankly, I can’t imagine anything more cinematic, or painterly, or indeed theatrical, than hot wet rivers of blood gushing out of an orifice in the human body. Okay, streams. Not that this particular show involves an actress opening her legs and pulling red velvet ribbons out from between them for a full thirty five consecutive minutes. I’m just making a little observation)
Because this play isn’t actually a one woman show about my menstrual cycle. It’s about my trauma. So, is Good Time Girl simply a self-indulgent exercise in confessional writing as therapy, I hear you ask. Maybe. And is it any good? I think so, but then you can’t take my word for it, because I’m unhinged.
Good Time Girl follows an evening in the life of Martine, a young office worker whose slightly surreal, warped perception of her appearance affects her every waking moment with tragic consequences. Martine suffers from Body Dysmorphic Disorder: a little understood mental condition which affects 1 in 100 people but which has rarely been interpreted for stage or screen.
Franz Kafka supposedly suffered from Body Dysmorphic Disorder – so if you liked Metamorphosis, you’ll love this. Hilarious slightly esoteric jokes aside, I wrote Good Time Girl because I recognised the theatricality inherent to the condition that has ruled over my life for much of my post adolescent existence. Being sick in the head – as t’were – makes you see and feel things to which the ‘normal’ people around you are immune. Has your stomach expanded so far in front of you that it is about to explode across the linoleum in a fireworks display of intestines and the loaf of Hovis Best of Both that you ate for dinner? Or are you just walking through Aldi really needing a wee? I wanted to write a play about this aspect of my life because, although I grandiosely think of myself of some kind of wordsmith, I have historically had a lot of difficulty putting this particular experience in to words.
I approached writing Martine as one would approach a mirror if one suffered from BDD – with a fevered combination of anxiety, compulsion and nausea – and found myself falling a little bit in love with her (Err, yes, that is pretty Freudian). When I submitted an early version of Good Time Girl to Spilt Milk Theatre for their MILKShake scratch night in October 2017, I was mostly nervous to find out which creatives I would be matched with, and whether or not they would actually like the character enough to invest in the piece. Eight months later, Siobhan Lynn Brennan (Director) and Mica Williams (Actor) have agreed to work with me again on this longer version, despite Mica calling the new edit “f***king brutal” and Siobhan saying it’s like “being punched in the stomach. Repeatedly.”
As a writer, I tend to avoid rehearsals of my work (in case the director turns to me and says “Why, why are you like this?”), so I am fairly in the dark as to what Siobhan and Mica have been up to… but I do know that one rehearsal has been interrupted by a trip to A&E. Which is pleasingly rock ‘n’ roll, if you don’t mind my saying.
We are presenting it as part of Fringe Lab in order that we can get some audience feedback and to see how we might develop the piece in the future. We hope that you will come and that you will have a lot to say! Just don’t bring a first date. Or your mum. Unless you want to sit next to them during (probably) the most depressing sex scene ever written for the Cardiff stage.
See you there! I’ll be the hot mess on the front row laughing loudly at my own jokes.
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Gwyn Thomas de Chroustchoff reviews Good Time Girl, a sardonic monologue about mental health and sexuality written by Georgia Coles-Riley at Cardiff Fringe.
Cardiff Fringe Theatre Festival (CFTF) is be home to some of the most talented artists from Wales and beyond.
You can find out more about Good Time Girl at Cardiff Fringe here.