“Pretty Knickers Productions certainly can act”
When six old school friends from a small town reunite in the hopes of winning Yorkshire’s Got Talent as a girl group, it soon dawns on them that in order to make it they’ll need more than talent to succeed – they’ll need a sob story to get the public on their side. As a dark and witty peak into reality tv talent shows and those who crave to participate in them, Sob Story hits the spot in just how far a slightly misguided group of girls might go to meet their goal. But there’s a twist…
Without giving away spoilers, the show definitely doesn’t go the way it might appear to – credit to writers Calum Ferguson & Lewis Lauder for the unexpected change of direction and thrilling climax – though unfortunately the dénouement’s power is slightly undermined by the lack of ground work in the first half of the show to make it effective. Character backgrounds and more details about the world they inhabit outside of the here and now are largely sacrificed for an unnecessary chunk of self-indulgent singing, so when relationships and loyalties between the girls are put under strain, it becomes difficult to connect and empathise given the precious little that has been shared about them in the run-up.
Director Donna Soto-Morettini does well to keep the pace going and tease out changes in mood to reflect the action, though has her work cut out to bring together the scraps of story into a cohesive and naturally flowing production. The company of Pretty Knickers Productions certainly can act, though – Mhairi McCall in particular shines and commands the stage as ringleader Sophie, while Lana Pheutan as Aimee is consistently hilarious with her gawkish physicality during the opening scenes. The a capella singing throughout is impressive, and there’s an ease with which the company works together that indicates a lot of untapped potential.
Sob Story is a powerfully performed and interesting show, but would definitely benefit from greater script workshopping to become the gripping thriller it deserves to be. The self-marketing as a comedy seems ill-fitting somehow – the dark humour misses more times than it hits – though maybe this will pick up further into the run. One to keep an eye on.
Reviewer: Steve Griffin (Seen 5 August)