The blurb indicates that Paper Doll is in response to A View From The Bridge, Arthur Miller’s classic about a middle-aged man whose affection for his niece turns into something destructive.
Paper Doll too ventures into that turbulent territory of desire out of control. A man falls for his partner’s daughter, which leads to tragic consequences for all concerned.
This piece takes itself seriously, with good reasons. It makes for very intense, awkward, sometimes confronting viewing.
Interestingly the play, written by Katy Warner, does not deal with the original events, rather it explores the effects of those events, after the man has been punished for his abuse and the young girl has become a woman.
How those events have marked both of them, and what’s left of their lives, is the focus of the play.
The staging is stark: just an empty room with two people trapped by four walls.
Within that gloomy space unfolds a sad tale of two individuals by complex emotions: resentment and anger line their faces and strain their speech.
Guilt is the underlying emotion, for both the perpetrator and the victim.
Martin Ashley Jones is perfectly cast as the weak, manipulative, self-pitying predator driven by an obsessive passion.
Even more complex is the character played by Hayley Pearl.
Her justifiable hatred of the man who has ruined her life, mixes with feelings of pity for the fact that he is now a broken man.
She also feels guilty, the guilt of the victim.
Nevertheless, I found it implausible that she should want to invite the man to stay with her in her apartment, after he has served his sentence.
This could have been a simple play about evil versus innocence, instead it stays clear of moral judgements.
It grapples with the complexities of human actions. In the end, as the play intimates, all parties are losers in the murky world of predatory sexuality.
In the world of mostly light entertainment which dominates Fringe, this is a very welcome addition. The Blue Room deserves credit for bringing more serious, committed theatre to the Fringe public.
If you want an hour of gripping, thought-provoking drama, this is one show you will want to catch.