Such a Nice Girl

Aug 20 2014 | By More

✭✭✭✩✩  Sects and violence

Just at St John’s (Venue 127) Fri 15 – Sun 24 Aug 2014

Well acted, intriguingly written and largely successful, Such a Nice Girl can be counted as another striking contribution to the Just Festival by Black Dingo Productions.

Hazel Dubourdieu and Lauren Heatheril (right). Photo Sandrine Cazalet

Hazel Dubourdieu and Lauren Heatheril (right). Photo Sandrine Cazalet

Nurse Eilidh is awaiting trial after sending a sectarian email to her superior Laura. This set-up sounds worryingly similar to that of Warrior, Black Dingo’s previous production this Fringe in the same venue – the side chapel at St John’s church. As it turns out, however, the plays are very different. Where the earlier play had a thoroughly realistic feel, this one is set largely inside the head of one of the characters.

Eilidh’s email, as it turns out, contained rococo threats of violence that would have landed her in trouble without the anti-Protestant slurs. The focus of the play also opens out to include questions such as how to deal with grief and the way that people find themselves fitting into the roles of bully or victim. This has the effect of putting sectarianism in context rather than treating the subject as fuel for any kind of propaganda.

Jen McGregor’s writing deals with all of these themes elegantly, economically and thought-provokingly. There is a tautness throughout which creates a real tension. This, unfortunately, is rather dissipated towards the end, when there are too many different questions raised, only for the whole thing to end rather abruptly.

contradictions and conflicting impulses

Hazel Dubourdieu rises well to the task of portraying Eilidh. At times her delivery seems a little awkward, but she manages to put across the contradictions and conflicting impulses of the character, meaning that the audience are prevented from making easy judgements.

Lauren Heatherill has an easier job as Laura – her character is a projection from Eilidh’s mind, the voice of conscience (or lack of it), a kind of anti-Jiminy Cricket. This frees her from the demands of naturalism a little more, and she approaches her role with relish.

Angela Milton’s direction is thoughtful and makes good use of the unusual space. This only really falls down when the actors are required to display physical rather than virtual violence. This is well choreographed and would work on a conventional stage, but when it is in between the audience and in such close proximity to them it fails to quite convince.

Most of the rest is compelling and convincing – notably the violence of the language. There is an emotional realism here which is tough and unsentimental and should be applauded.

Running time 45 minutes
Just at St John’s (Venue 127) , St John’s Church, Princes St, EH2 4BJ
Fri 15 – Sun 24 August 2014
Daily at 2.00 pm
Tickets from
Company website at
Just Festival website at


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