Review by Emma Whitelaw
UNDERNEATH every city lies a seedy underbelly and as Mariane
Gomard Meyer’s Etta Jenks reveals, LA is
most certainly no exception.
The darkly comic play is the story of how a young woman’s
unfathomable ambition leads to lust, betrayal and even murder.
Etta, played by Daniela Nardini, chases her dreams to the sun-soaked
LA to become a movie star.
Overwhelmed and exhausted she arrives in the big smoke and, desperate
to make something of herself, takes to the streets in search of
After auditioning for various parts in the theatre, she realises
little if any money can be made by treading the boards and so
turns to Burt, her deaf boyfriend/roommate, for some guidance
(who is played by the immensely talented Mido Hamada).
He says he knows 'a guy' that has video equipment and reluctantly
he agrees to introduce him to her. A lack of money (and commonsense)
leads Etta to the cesspit that is the studio of porn director/producer,
Glen Conroy is superb as the sleazy Ben. He tells Etta that porn
is an integral part of the film industry and that many well known
stars began just like her, short of cash and in need of exposure
and he was there for them, happy to lend a hand.
After being seduced by his speech
and in the vain belief that a few skin flicks would give her acting
career the kick start it needs, Etta agrees to work for Ben.
Ans, for a while, Etta is happy, earning a lot of money and getting
a lot of exposure.
But all the while she is drifting further and further from the
goals she once set. The fame and attention soon goes to her head
and stupidly she dumps Burt for Ben.
As the sun starts to set on her career, Etta realises the foolish
mistakes she has made.
It is only a matter of time before she sees Ben’s true
colours and eventually she leaves him too. Older and somewhat
wiser, she uses her business head to cut a deal with another producer
and becomes a talent scout.
Her search for talent, however, uncovers a gruesome secret that
cannot be ignored. Unable to let it rest, Etta follows an even
darker path, one from which she may not ever return.
Etta Jenks is a refreshing, darkly comic play that is sure to
Etta Jenks, by Marlane Gomard Meyer. Timothy Hughes
Productions in association with Weaver Hughes Ensemble. Directed
by Ché Walker. Starring Daniela Nardini, Chris O’Dowd,
Mido Hamada, Glenn Conroy, Cristina Gavin, Indra Ove, Siobhan
Hewlett, Maggie Service, Laura Freeman, Clarke Peters, John Hollingworth
and Tom Sangster. Designed by Ana Jebens; Lighting by Alex Wardle;
Sound Design by Matt Downing; Costume Design by Annie Curtis-Jones;
Assistant Director. Vanessa Mobiglia. 2 – 26 February at
Finborough Theatre, The Finborough Bar, 118 Finborough Road, London,
SW10 9ED. 24-hour Credit Card Hotline: 08700 600 100/ Box Office
Information 020 7373 3842.
Photo kindly supplied by Dan Rabin.