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Review: My Paper Girlfriend @ Brighton Fringe

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub

My Paper Girlfriend, Wesley Griffith’s one-man show about a delusional singleton so lonely he dates a cut-out woman, is short, sweet and sensitive. Griffiths incorporates storytelling, mime and a snatch or two of poetry in a bittersweet send-up of society’s obsession with perfect love, finding a few chuckles along the way and ending on a touching, if not particularly poignant note.

Against a moving backdrop of Dean Gibson’s illustrations, Griffith charts the clichéd journey of a hopeless romantic, unlucky in love until he happens upon the girl of his dreams by chance one afternoon in the park. First date, second date, engagement and marriage swiftly follow. All very banal, one would think, except Griffith’s soulmate is actually a 10-inch high paper cut-out.

Actually, bizarre as it may sound, that could do with being made a little more explicit. Perhaps Griffith intends to disconcert the audience slightly by keeping us guessing as to whether his new girlfriend is real or not, but it seems to me that the richer vein of satire – if one can call it satire – is in the pathos of his unconventional love, not the revelation of it. Once the quirky charm of the premise has worn off, the more powerful comment is on the absurdity of the soulmate ideal and the twisting pressure of finding ‘the one’.

With Griffith adopting that recognisable lovable loser persona, a bit like Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 500 Days Of Summer, he is an engaging presence on stage: earnest, miserable, and apologetic. He is also an energetic and expressive mime, although his show would benefit hugely from a larger dollop of wit and imagination in this department. As it is, the mime sequences – preparing for a date, at a restaurant, at the beach – are a little long and a little pedestrian.

But at only 35 minutes long, there is little not to like about My Paper Girlfriend. It’s a bitesize slice of innovative storytelling, with a semi-serious message and a cracking soundtrack.

3/5

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