A clever mix of verbatim and live action theatre exposing the deep rabbit hole of sexual exploitation of women in Hollywood dating back to the 1920s.
Chloe Wade writes and stars in an informative play that brings our attention back to what sadly is still a big problem in the film industry.
The play is based on the story of actress Patricia Douglas who was brutally attacked at an MGM party in 1937. Following the assault, she took legal action to bring her perpetrators to justice, her case was subsequently thrown out, silenced and dismissed by the authorities. A scenario that is all too familiar in the present day.
Four of the five female cast (Krupa Patti, Lucy Truck, Tanika Yearwood, Stacey Evans) multi-rolled between parts, including “Damsel in Distress”, “A Leading Lady”, “A Sex Symbol”, and “A Comedy Queen”. Characters very new to Hollywood, and others with experience who offer advice about where to go and who to trust.
The focal point of these characters is Wade’s “Girl Next Door”, an aspiring young lady moving to Hollywood to pursue the only thing she’s ever loved. In her own words “I must act, it’s a pleasure stepping into someone else’s life”. At first, she is shy and quietly excited to be in the room, however she slowly becomes aware of the dark forces operating behind the glitz and glamour. The alternating roles bring about a variety of situations highlighted by the #MeToo movement following Harvey Weinstein’s prosecution. Situations that include the uncomfortable meetings with executives, the patronising audition panel saying, “there’s a time and place for a mouth like that” and how you can be smiling and appear happy when in fact you’re not.
The biggest theme that stood out is the abuse of power and how those high-up prey on vulnerability and the inability to say no. Power seeks weakness and feeds off those who relinquish theirs all too easily in the forlorn hope that it will bring them success and happiness. It explores how young, naïve performers are pressurised to meet the unrealistic demands of Hollywood and the so-called “perfect look”. One scene sees a girl handing out diet pills to suppress hunger and an obscene male director threatening to fire an actress for being overweight. A question the show provoked was, why live a life of success when it comes at the expense of your soul?
Writers Chloe Wade, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm and director Tilly Vosburgh have tapped into something very real and very relevant. I applaud not only the writing but all the performances as well, I encourage everyone to go and see it and spread the word.
As SHE Likes it goes on a national tour from 31st January to 16th March, more information and tour dates are here.