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Some Girl I Used To Know

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Denise van Outen’s new one-woman play with music is a kind of theatrical selfie. Co-written with Terry Ronald, Van Outen plays a high-flying lingerie queen reflecting on life after she’s suddenly thrown off-kilter when an old flame tempts her to a fling on the side. Will Stephanie Canworth secretly succumb? Or will she count her blessings and just carry on with a business career and a marriage that are rapidly losing their mojo?

It’s soon obvious that Stephanie’s snapshot recollections of her rise from shy Essex lass embarrassed about wearing cheap knickers to top lingerie seller constantly overlap with bits of Van Outen’s own history, which brings plenty of personal and emotional depth to what could so easily turn into a mid-life nostalgic wallow.

Overall, Michael Howcroft’s slick production, staged on Morgan Large’s swanky hotel set, presents an unsentimental portrait of a strong woman teetering between a lost past and a messy present, balanced and bolstered by a song list of power ballads – Steve Anderson’s gorgeous remixes of 1980s and 1990s hits by the likes of Culture Club, Thompson Twins and Soft Cell.

Looking fit and fabulous, whether glammed-up in her Jimmy Choos or dressed down in a pair of old lounge pants, Van Outen’s straight-to-audience delivery means it’s never quite clear where Stephanie begins and Denise leaves off, which is a major part of the show’s appeal. But it’s her soaring vocals and superbly delivered lyrics that provide the beating heart to this girl’s story.

Roger Foss

  • West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
  • February 5-8, then touring until March 19
  • Authors: Terry Ronald, Denise Van Outen
  • Director: Michael Howcroft
  • Producer: Runaway Entertainment
  • Cast: Denise Van Outen
  • Running time: 1hr 45mins

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The Stage
The Stage is a British weekly newspaper and website covering the entertainment industry, and particularly theatre. It was founded in 1880. It contains news, reviews, opinion, features, and recruitment advertising.