Currently playing at Trafalgar Studios intimate Stage 2, it just takes four actors to portray the life-altering effects of the suicide of a loved one in The Girl Who Fell. A new play by Sarah Rutherford, who was the inaugural writer in residence at The Park Theatre.
In The Girl Who Fell we learn a 15 year-old girl is dead. She fell/jumped from a bridge and left behind a devastated mother, a stranger, a boyfriend and a best friend. None knew about the suicide beforehand and each is forever changed because of it.
The Girl Who Fell opens with Billie (Rosie Day) and Lenny (Will Fletcher) loitering about their neighbourhood following the recent death of their friend: Sam. Billie who has found a new love to recite dark poetry as a response to nearly everything, pokes and prods at the concept of death, often flustering her brother by using inappropriate recitals as she rolls around the set on her wheelie trainers.
Day expertly plays a curious, intelligent teenager with an air of confidence that could be difficult to portray on such a small stage. Her lines are by far the most complex of the group, but she delivers them effortlessly characterising the teenage language well. A towering Fletcher manages to convince audiences that he’s a simple, often tongue-tied teen adjusting to his rapidly growing stature, playing the less dynamic twin well.
We learn that Sam’s grief-stricken mother Thea (Claire Goose) has not handled the death well. She is on a vicious cycle of questioning, self disruption, heavy drinking and contemplating suicide herself. She meets a stranger: Gil (Navin Chowdhry) a kind anaesthesiologist with a backstory that adds a twist to this tale.
Goose and Chowdhry have excellent chemistry that allows them to take on some difficult scenes, shifting from intimacy to anger in such a realistic manner. Most notably, a sequence involving the use of Ketamine is so convincing that viewers can almost feel what they are experiencing. Goose’s emotionally charged role is persuasive, from tearful breakdowns to being a tough Woman/Mother in this social media world we all live in.
The characters continue to play the blame game and try to decipher their own roles in Sam’s suicide, but they never find a definitive answer. The four are left with a kind of closure that neither of them would have found without one another.
In our generation of growing mental health awareness and social media pressures, The Girl Who Fell deliberates the indeterminate nature of suicide in a fascinating way. Sarah Rutherford manages to create a production that tackles the aftermath of such a devastating event on friends and family with twists and turns as the play goes on.
The stage looks something like a cross between a mossy sidewalk and a shabby living room. With dubstep blaring through the speakers as the actors move props around. Set design by Georgia De Grey is very clever with the walls of the house slowly stripping away as the story unravels. Also clever use of lighting by Robbie Butler to draw in on the action taking place and give the warm hues of the inside locations and the coldness of the seasons changing.
The climax that would make this play outstanding is never quite reached, but it is still a clever piece, a story for this moment, played by four actors at the top of their game.
The Girl Who Fell is at Trafalgar Studios from 15th October until 23rd November 2019