Watch This – Society for Original Theatre presented the Guild with three nights of ‘Where We Buried the Doll’ last week, a fast-paced piece on the themes of power, twisted love, and public scandal. Protagonist Jane, a high-flying fashion photographer, is hit with a potentially ruining sex scandal, as her celebrity boyfriend Madson is accused of sexual assault. The play follows as Jane uncovers her true, and often surprising emotions, both on the case and to those surrounding her, flitting around the chronology of the plot, and leaving us with an unsettling feeling that status and power can and will overpower morals.
As an audience, you are dropped right into the middle of the drama, and gage what is going on as the play progresses. Scenes jump around one another, moving almost as a film does, as more information is revealed. In this way, tension and energy bubbled through the piece, rising higher and higher before being cut off by drastic cuts to black and jarring intermission music.
Each role was expertly played by the student actors. The lead, Elise White, in her first Guild show, presented a commanding and vicious female protagonist, a dominating presence in the piece, and controlled the pace and feel of each scene she was in. Will Melhuish’s role of Madson went through differing stages, portraying an uncertain male role, which highlighted the play’s larger comments on gender and relationships. Kalifa Taylor, in the role of Sophia, provided an endearing character that opened the play up even further to discuss LGBTQ themes, offering us the only real love we see in the play. A stylish glimpse into the celebrity setting was supplied by Marie-Claire du Voil, through the character Harriet. Rachel Baker brought personality and humour to her short but sweet appearance as Nicky, and comic relief was given by Matthew Johnson as he played the bumbling and laddish rock band manager Kurt, getting laughs from the entire audience. Anna, the girl trapped in the whirl of the assault case, was, to me, one of the most interesting characters. Initially presented as a classic grumpy teen, we are given an insight into Anna’s trauma, as she reaches out for help from Jane but receives only jealousy in return. Antonia Strafford-Taylor, who plays Anna, creates a complex and heart-breaking victim, with the closing scene moving away from the high-flung celebrity characters, and focusing, heartbreakingly, on her.
Rebecca Chapman’s writing shines through in this excellent piece, with wit, dark humour, and real emotion coming through the script. ‘Where We Buried the Doll’ spins our expectations of morality, not giving us the happy ending we expect, but the dark ending that is the more real.