REVIEW: Girl in Tan Boots (The Basement)

Girl in Tan Boots knocks your socks off.

Six strong women sparkle [by Sharu Delilkan]

Girl in Tan Boots knocks your socks off.
Girl in Tan Boots knocks your socks off.

It seemed almost like life imitating art when I arrived at the show Girl in Tan Boots with a mate who’s a red head, who loves cats and is a Westie. However I discovered later on that the lead character who was missing, Hannah the red head was lonely and single, which my friend is definitely not and was a bit of a loser, which couldn’t be further from the truth about my theatre buddy for the evening. Turns out that the only things she has in common with the main character Hannah is being a Westie and her love for cats. Nevertheless the coincidence was uncanny.

It is not long before the audience realises that award-winning Australian playwright Tahli Corin’s play Girl in Tan Boots has the makings of a great contemporary urban mystery (adapted to include Kiwi references that please the audience no end). Her dialogue is insightful, pithy and above all riddled with humour. I particularly like the meter of her writing. The skilful way she tags on witty comments at the end of the dialogue accentuates the perfect comic timing. Comic genius is exactly what we were treated to from all the major female characters including Detective Carapetis (Catherine Wilkin), Louise Day/Kit (Catherine Downes), Katie/Shanya (JJ Fong), Mandy/Leanne (Jodie Hillock), Lucy/Candee (Anoushka Klaus) and Antoineitta (Toni Potter).

This impressive all-female ensemble cast shines under the astute direction of Janice Finn (Agent Anna, The Strip). On a personal note I’d like to applaud The Basement (Sophie Henderson) for programming yet another all woman show, following hot on the heels of Between the Sheets with Beth Allen and Jennifer Ward-Lealand. May they continue to programme more shows with strong lead female roles to give our talented actresses a chance to excel.

Despite being opening night, the pace of the play was spot on and all the actors gave slick and impressive performances.

Daniel Williams’ static set is simple yet highly effective. My favourite part of the set is the mesh see-through screen doors, which worked a treat revealing the characters’ silhouettes, but I believe they could have been used to even greater dramatic effect. Given the mysterious subject matter of Girl in Tan Boots, Amber Molloy’s lighting design could possibly have been a lot more dramatic than the predominantly stark lighting.

As mentioned before Corin’s writing was definitely a highlight. However I’m not sure whether the ending that we saw was part of Corin’s initial draft as it felt almost like a tag on at the end, which got both me and my theatre buddy utterly confused. While we really liked the twist, minutes before the end, we agreed that the portion about the detective (I’m being suitably cryptic so as not to give anything away) could have been refined or explained better. Also the concluding scene seemed little bit too flippant, in comparison to the preceding serious storyline. I’m not sure whether this was a directional choice or one that the playwright has chosen as her ending. Either way it seemed to cheapen the otherwise fabulous production and script.

Corin’s Girl in Tan Boots’ intriguing storyline is both captivating and clever, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats. This black comedy has numerous laugh-out-loud moments providing the audience with both a hoot and a riot, and is ultimately a highly entertaining evening out.

Janice Finn presents Girl in Tan Boots and plays at The Basement until 22 March. More information at The Basement

SEE ALSO: Theatreview.org.nz review by Lexi Matheson

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