We’ve all had our fair share of heartbreaks in our time, and there’s still a fair few of us who are in those awkward teenage years experimenting with love. It’s a subject that’s been widely talked about in songs, films and theatre. With regards to the latter, actress and singer Denise Van Outen brings to the stage a fresh, honest and funny tale that we can all connect with, coming in the form of her new one-woman musical play Some Girl I Used To Know.
The show follows the story of Stephanie Canworth, played by Van Outen. Stephanie is a successful business woman with a highly successful career and a loving, devoted husband. On a night away from home in the room of her hotel, Stephanie logs onto Facebook to find she’s been messaged by an old flame from her past. This brings the memories of her youth in the 90s flooding back, causing her to sift through a huge number of emotions from love, loss and, most importantly, longing.
Stephanie cleverly and smoothly takes the audience on a journey of heartbreak and lost passion, infusing plenty of honest and natural dialogue with nostalgic tunes from an era of simple pleasures where all you had to worry about was sticking with your friends and holding on to that special romance. As the play goes on, Stephanie realises that it’s the here and now that matters the most, and that clinging to the past won’t get you anywhere.
Van Outen’s character builds strong rapport with the audience throughout the show, causing them to cry with laughter and shed tears simultaneously. This is mainly achieved through Van Outen’s and writer Terry Ronald’s dialogue, but the icing on the cake comes in the form of the well-executed songs sung by Van Outen herself, which convey and heighten the various emotional states of her character in a subtle fashion.
The production’s simple yet effective set also helps to establish the world that Stephanie lives in; with the lighting changing to suit her mood and location within the narrative, whilst the nostalgic objects hanging from the roof help to enforce the idea that Stephanie’s past will always be a part of her, and that the girl she used to be has helped shape the successful person she is today.
That’s the thing with Some Girl I Used To Know; while it’s a highly entertaining, enjoyable and very well-executed piece of theatre, it also serves as a reminder that your past, whether you want to admit it or not, is a crucial part of who you are today. In the most comforting way possible, Some Girl I Used To Know makes you truly appreciate the person you used to be, and that whatever happens, they’re there to help shape the person you are today and in the future.
Some Girl I Used To Know is playing at the West Yorkshire Playhouse until 8 February. For more information and tickets, see the West Yorkshire Playhouse website.