Blending honest, raw and engaging characters and story, Stop Girl pulls back the curtain on the world of journalism and foreign correspondents, to reveal the bubbling quagmire of trauma that is just below the surface of the story and indeed beneath the disconnected facades of the journalists reporting them.
At no point however, does the script feel like trauma porn. Instead Sara steers the ship with a more factual based writing style. The work keeps well clear of overly romantic tropes or self indulgence, rather firming staying on the path of matter of fact truth. There is a strong pathos throughout the work that never wavers – it grabs the audience’s attention early and never allows them to look away until the end.
Anne-Louise Sarks helms the production with a keen eye for detail and a deft hand – Sarks doesn’t hold back from exploding the war zones and trauma on stage and hurling the audience straight into the eye of the storm. Time and space bleed into each other as Sarks peels back the layers of the script’s subtle chaos.
Sheridan Harbridge gives a tour de force performance – poised, nuanced and brutal, finding that perfect balance between script and character – she is not just reciting lines but rather she is living them, in each scene, in each moment, in each breath, as the work unfolds.
There is an ease in how Harbridge owns the stage, leaning further into the character so that every gesture, every shudder, every smirk that turns sour, is natural and reactionary to the story. It truly is a masterful display of an actor’s craft.
Deborah Galanos, Amber McMahon, Mansoor Noor and Toni Scanlan round out the cast, each giving a masterfully restrained performance that never dips or wavers into cliche or overly emotive drivel. Their performances are sleek and robust, with each displaying a comfortability on stage that is second to none – the stage is their world and they know it.
The world constructed on the stark white stage is bleak but familiar. Inner conflict and blips in memory are perfectly articulated on stage through the use of audio visual elements – it really feels as if the main characters erratic thoughts are hurdled up against the wall.
Stop Girl is a strong and enlightening debut from Sally Sara, with a little finessing this work has great potential to tour nationally and internationally.
Belvoir St Theatre (Upstairs), 25 Belvoir Street, Surry Hills
Performance: Saturday 10 April 2021
Season continues to 25 April 2021
Information and Bookings: www.belvoir.com.au
Image: Sheridan Harbridge in Stop Girl – photo by Brett Boardman
Review: Gavin Roach