Some Girl(s)

Silo Theatre, Auckland

16/05/2007 - 16/06/2007

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details

By Neil LaBute
Directed by Margaret Mary Hollins

Set design by Rachel Walker
Lighting design by Andrew Malmo
Costume design by Justine Hunter (for Zambezi)

Following its Tenth Birthday season of BARE, Silo Theatre is delighted to announce Neil LaBute’s SOME GIRL(S) as its second production in this year’s Comedy Festival programme.

Acclaimed for a style that delivers the very best in contemporary lacerating drama, LaBute changes tact with Some Girl(s) to offer the blackest of romantic comedies in an outrageously funny and deadly serious portrait of the modern male and his High Fidelity-esque quest to reconcile with former girlfriends before tying the knot.  

Premiered in 2005 in London’s West End, Some Girl(s) has attracted a cast of high profile actors all eager to bring to life the charcters created by one of the most heralded writers of our time. This trend continues in 2007 with Silo Theatre’s production, directed by Margaret-Mary Hollins, which boasts a stellar cast of some of NZ’s finest acting talent.

Roy Snow (High Society, core cast Shortland Street) returns to Silo Theatre following his success in the theatre’s production of LaButes This Is How It Goes last year. In taking this role Snow joins the company of Will and Grace’s Eric McCormack and Friends‘ David Schwimmer who also played ‘Guy’ in the London and Broadway productions.

Two time consecutive winner of Best Supporting Actress at The AFTA New Zealand Television Awards for her role in Mercy Peak, Alison Bruce also eagerly returns to the stage for this caustic little comedy gem. Playing the older woman and vengeful seductress Bruce follows in the footsteps of The Nanny‘s Fran Drescher who starred in the premiere Broadway season.

Bruce is joined by the much loved Madeleine Sami (Sione’s Wedding, BadJelly the Witch),  Michelle Langstone (McLeod’s Daughters) and Jacque Drew (Twelfth Night, The Women) to complete the round up of ex-girlfriends; a group which together would have most men running for cover … but of course this is theatre and the result is bloody funny.

LaButes Some Girl(s) is a slick elegantly constructed comedy that will have you laughing right up until he twists the knife … in true LaBute style.

SOME GIRL(S) plays
May 16 – June 16, 2007
Directed by Margaret Mary Hollins featuring Alison Bruce, Jacque Drew, Madeline Sami and Roy Snow.
Monday and Tuesday at 7pm. All other shows 8pm. No show on Sundays

Bookings through Ticketmaster on 09 970 9700 or

Alison Bruce
Jacque Drew
Michelle Langstone
Madeline Sami
Roy Snow

Theatre ,

Great writer, cast, production … and yet …

Review by Imogen Neale 23rd May 2007

IT’S FAIR to say that most people have some sort of reaction to their partner’s ex-partners. It could be shock as ‘my god, but s/he is so average/mad/stunningly beautiful/hideously rude… or it could be disbelief ‘but he’s a she and I’m a he’… Whatever it is, it’s really hard to imagine that other, not-you person, fitting with your partner (who, hopefully, now fits so perfectly well with you).

Perhaps part of that disbelief comes from the fact that you don’t want to admit, even less visualise, that other person in your place doing couple things and believing their coupling had a future (which, we can assume, would exclude you). Perhaps the other part, however, comes from realising that while people may have ‘a’ character or ‘a’ personality, that character or personality is a sum of its parts. So, while your partner may have been dating an ice-skating drama queen before he meet you – a carbon neutral, bike ridding baker – that doesn’t mean he’s had a personality change. It just means he used to like watching her sequins but now he likes watching your well toned calf muscles.

Some Girl(s) – the Neil LaBute play currently being performed at the Silo Theatre – draws on this very idea. Except, rather than one person meeting their partners other partners, Some Girl(s) is about one guy going to back to see four of his past partners before he gets married. Just like the scenario I trotted through above, this storyline could be a fascinating exploration of human versatility and capricious qualities like taste, attraction and empathy.

But something just doesn’t work. And I’m not sure why. Because, as I’ve said, the premise is a good one: one guy, one last minute, pre-wedding panic and four very different women in four cities.

Perhaps it’s because it’s all so equal: there are two vignettes or re-meetings before intermission and then two, of equal length, after the intermission. The women walk in, wonder, openly, why they’re there, go through a bit of their history, reveal (once again) that he’s been a very average boyfriend and tell him what they think. He shrugs, gets a wee bit flustered and then shows them the door. Enter the next one.

Perhaps it’s because we don’t feel anything for Guy – we don’t love him and we don’t hate him. Indeed, if anything, all we feel towards him is a little pity mixed in with apathy. That’s not to say Roy Snow doesn’t do an admirable job with the character but, more to say that the character is about as deep as a petri dish so what can he do?

Perhaps it’s because none of the women do anything out of what quickly becomes the ordinary. As I’ve said, they arrive, tell their tale, have a wee moan and then leave. They all take the same time to do this and they all go through the motions in a very calculated and detached manner – even the first ex-girlfriend, Sam (Jacque Drew) who has a very desperate housewife / Starbucks moment.

Perhaps it’s because we don’t like him, we don’t really bind with any of the women (although I’d love to be friends with Madeline Sami’s skilfully played character Tyler) and the Silo theatre is so goddamn hot and coffin-like you’re sure, that at any moment, you’re about to choke on your neighbours carbon dioxide.

What do I think would have worked? Well, I’m not Neil LaBute who is a master of his craft, and I can’t fault the acting or the direction or the staging or the costumes or or or… BUT why not have Guy visit six or seven girls? Why not have one walk in, yell and scream and walk out? Why not have one turn up, take five minutes to completely verbally assonate him then leave? Why not get one woman to turn up with photos and letters – some forgotten boxers even – light a little fire then turn heal? Why not get one to admit her undying love before showing him a tattoo she has of him on her left breast? Why be so conventional? Why make them all the same length, same pattern and same outcome?

And while I am on ‘whys’ – why, if he is a writer (he’s has some small success – shown some commercial promise) does he seem like a banker or an internet whiz kid gone lost soul? Which is to say, as a writer he should be a: very articulate, sharp and vicious OR b: bumbling, totally preoccupied and naively endearing. Of course there are many writers who don’t fit either of these small generic boxes but they’re boxes that work.

Clearly then, I’m confused. Great writer, stellar cast, grand production effort and my favourite theatre venue (even given the whole suffocation thing) and yet… No. Doesn’t fly. Even with all the 747 ‘coming in to land’ noise they pipe through to mark the change of women.

Originally published in The Lumière Reader.


Moya Bannerman May 30th, 2007

Not having seen Some Girl(s) I can't be certain but it seems to me LaBute is revisiting moral issues that are similar to those he explored in 'The Shape of Things', in which the line between 'art' and 'reality' comes under scrutiny. From memory (because most reviews are understandably coy about giving the show away), a young woman artist 'makes over' a young man, changing him in the real world (most would say for the better), as an art project. But where does that leave him - who was unaware of her real motives - when it's over?

Rosabel May 30th, 2007

What I think Labute tries to do is to present some sort of immorality, but it begins at the level where we can sympathise or empathise with the characters. Usually there’s a ‘twist’ of some sort, which leads to the entire situation being catapulted even further into the depths of immorality, and so he’s making the audience uncomfortable by creating a character we ultimately view as immoral but who we initially empathised with. He highlights that idea that we all have the potential to be (or are perhaps already) that ‘bad’. I've been mulling over this play, and after thinking about it from a slightly different perspective, I've concluded that I actually really like it. Most of the reviews I have read denounce Guy’s actions as immoral and claim he is a bastard, and I’m beginning to disagree with this. When you break it down, what he is essentially doing is using his real-life experiences in his writing (granted, he is actually creating these situations… to an extent). What I find interesting is that this is something everybody does – and I think you actually need to do this to achieve a certain level of authenticity. It seems, then, that Labute is questioning where you actually draw the line – when is it too far? And for me, I’m not sure Guy’s actions are all that bad. The fact that he hurt a lot of people – that’s bad. The fact that he’s using it in his writing? I think this is something that raises a lot of interesting questions, not only regarding morality but also originality, the latter being of particular interest to me. I mean, think about some of Woody Allen’s films which are extremely autobiographical. In this case, the people and events the films are based on are explicit and little privacy is offered to those involved. Guy’s actions, on the other hand, leave the characters relatively anonymous (I doubt anyone besides those involved would know who he is referring to, if anyone) and so a certain level of privacy is maintained. Yet no one really deplores Allen for what he does, so why Guy? When I was thinking about this, the play Frozen by Bryony Lavery also sprang to mind. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with this play; it’s about a serial paedophile/ murderer. There are two intertwining perspectives in the play. One is from the point of view of the mother, whose child was one of his victims. The other was from the view of a psychologist studying the psychology of serial killers and was using the paedophile as one of her subjects for study. The latter plotline was especially interesting since it attempts to justify a killer’s actions, explaining their behaviour from a neuropsychological standpoint. The play itself is very well written and was extremely well received. It was later found, however, that the character of the psychologist had been based on an actual psychologist studying serial killers, and much of the events in the play had actually happened in real life. Some of the lines in the play were actually quoted from interviews with her. And there was a huge uproar because Lavery had never asked the psychologist for permission to use her ‘life’. Interestingly, the role of the mother had also been closely based on a real-life person, but Lavery had asked her permission so nothing was said about this. I think this highlights that issue of originality / morality: I haven’t quite got my head around it yet but I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Imogen Neale May 28th, 2007

Thanks for you comments - it's heartening to receive feedback that's clearly thought through. You note that you felt there was a little bit of a plot redemption at the end - the whole winding the tape back on while calling his soon-to-be wife moment. I agree with you though - it comes too late. So late I think it’d work better if it never happened. I think Guy - as generic a ‘shallow guy’ (hence the name I take it) as he is supposed to be, the end twist reveals that, shock horror, he does have a character - he's not generic just a generic guy or Guy... Suddenly you are left thinking "well, I am supposed to have disliked him all along? Because I haven't really disliked him, I’ve just not been fussed about him. But apparently he is a conniving sleaze I should really dislike and I should have really disliked the whole time... But I didn't and now I almost want to start over again." Perhaps, as you say, this is Neil Labute's MO - if I was more familiar with his works I'd probably know this. Of course then you could always argue – should you have to know someone’s ways to be able to connect with, what I’d argue, are the basic themes of their plays? Not sure where I stand with that – to some extent I think it’s a great thing to educate yourself about what you’re about to see before you see it so you go in more able to appreciate what you’re witnessing. On the other hand I think – no. The basic themes should be accessible and they should encourage people to want to dig around to discover some of the subtler ones. Interested to hear your thoughts.

R May 26th, 2007

I agree that something doesn’t quite work with this play, and I think it’s because the characters are too shallow; too symbolic perhaps. As a result we don’t really identify with any of them – we like them, sure. They’re witty, charismatic, etc – but they’re held at too abstract a level. Langstone’s character, for example, could easily have become someone we identify with – indeed, she seems to be the ‘everygirl’ to Guy’s ‘everyman’, but again the depth of character was too shallow. Lines a little too cliche. I thought that the twist at the end was the one redeeming feature (plot-wise) of what would have been a relatively mundane story-line, but that twist comes a little too late. The last scene is fantastic, but doesn’t quite make up for the repetitive nature of the scenes before hand. I agree with you – some variety would have been nice. At the same time, I think it would have gone completely against what Labute was trying to accomplish – that of trying to highlight that (a) this is how Guy is and always will be, and (b) foreshadowing in a sense his next story– perhaps what we’re watching is the story itself? It’s almost metatheatrical in a sense. With regards to your comment that he doesn’t seem much like a writer: i liked it better that way – if he were one of the two options you described then perhaps he wouldn’t need to stoop to such depths to succeed? Well i suppose not, but it makes it seem more feasible, in my opinion

Make a comment

The Guy that hurt girls

Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 20th May 2007

There’s been a lot of LaBute about lately, due (for Auckland audiences) to Silo Theatre’s programming.

Some Girl(s), his latest play, explores the egocentric, self indulgent actions of Guy – a successful writer in his mid 30’s who is about to marry a young nurse after two decades of commitment-phobia – as he arranges 4 meetings with ex-lovers in hotels rooms in Seattle, Chicago, Boston and LA.

While this production is smooth and slick – to the point that at times it’s like watching an American sitcom – Neil LaBute’s exploration into the darker side of Guy’s actions, saves this piece from being light. It delves into the side of human nature that drives us to act in a way to fulfil our own agendas, to the point where we stop being honest with others, and to ourselves. While billed as "caustic, black and bloody funny", the play is little more than a comment on hidden agendas, as he explores some bad aspects of the male psyche.

There is a twist near the end, that shows the lengths Guy is willing to go to reel in good material for his writing, but I needed more, given that we already knew Guy had based previously published short stories, on his failed relationships, capitalising on his legacy of broken hearts and pain.

I have a major issue with LaBute’s Guy. He is given few redeeming features. For a writer, Guy articulates badly, is verbally clumsy and does little to hide his inflated ego. More to the point, through his women, we find out he was quick to leave when the going got tough, dishonest and distracted in his relationships. It got to the point where I wondered how any attractive, intelligent, sophisticated woman could’ve fallen for him.

Guy is revolting; right from his the first reunion with ex #1. He is not on an emotional journey of self-discovery or development, and we increasingly hope the next ex will undo him completely. Although the stakes get higher during each visit, by the end, Guy’s indifference towards the pain he has caused women, remains. As he easily slips from confessing "I love you" to #4, to talking about the weather with his fiancé on the phone, he appears to have no conscience.

For all that, the very likable Roy Snow excels in the role of the unlike-able Guy, with a convincing mix fake apology and manipulation.

The first reunion is, appropriately, with his first love, high school sweetheart Sam, played extremely well by Jacque Drew. Drew is particularly good as she corners Guy about his prom night deceit. Perhaps because Drew is American herself, the dialogue feels more authentic in this opening scene, compared to later conversations, which verge on forced and unlikely.

The second liaison is with the sexually charged and aggressive, free spirited Tyler, played by Madeleine Sami. Even the self-assured Tyler, though, admits Guy caused her pain. Sami effortlessly oozes sex appeal and confidence and her performance is stunning. Meow.

The third meeting reveals a married older woman, Lindsay, played by Alison Bruce. Toughened by the loss of dignity she endured when the affair was exposed and Guy ran, Bruce is perfectly cast here and relishes the opportunity to play out some sweet revenge and regain the power and control Lindsay lost. Yet this strong woman, too, reveals she was left hurt at the time.

Finally Bobbi appears: his love from college days and ‘the one that got away’. Michelle Langstone uses stillness to great affect as she articulates the (you guessed it), hurt Guy inflicted. Although Bobbi’s dialogue becomes grandiose at times, Langstone’s performance is quietly strong and decisive. 

Direction by Margaret-Mary Hollins is subtle and her blocking well reasoned, using gestures and cross overs between Guy and his women, to highlight his manipulation.

Set design by Rachel Walker wisely uses just one generic hotel room for the job at hand, which is complemented well by a clean, specific lighting design by Andrew Malmo. (Domestic lamps either side of the bed as you’d expect, etc).

Costume designer Justine Hunter (for Zambezi) gives all in the cast, a chic, urban look. While the women’s clothes are stunning, only some of the garments are appropriate the character. So while Lindsay (college professor) looks well suited, Sam (mother of two from the suburbs) looks far too sophisticated.

While I found the structure formulaic, and felt increasingly detached from Guy as he systematically confronts the lovers he left, to "right the wrongs", in a thinly veiled quest for new material, the capacity audience was engaged and involved from beginning to end.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council