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Schwimmer shines while re-visiting Some Girl(s) from his past



Review by Jack Foley

THE bravado of man is ruthlessly exposed as both naive and hopelessly destructive in Neil LaBute's biting new comedy, Some Girl(s), at the West End's Gielgud Theatre.

David Schwimmer stars as a writer known simply as the Man, who resolves to revisit four of his most significant ex-girlfriends in hotel rooms around America just before he marries an unseen trainee nurse.

At first, his motives are unclear, coming over as awkward as the reunions themselves, given that he claims to be 'making amends' for the sins of his past - or rather the ability to walk out on a relationship just when it gets interesting.

Yet this is clearly not the reason for the 'torture' he puts himself, and his women, through, exposing old wounds as he attempts to discover whether his marriage really is 'the right thing'.

Is one of the women he has arranged to meet really the one that got away? The one true woman he loved and lost?

And is it too late to 'make amends' and prevent himself making another mistake?

Given that this is a Neil LaBute play (the writer behind In The Company of Men and The Shape of Things), the answers don't come easy and there is a price to be paid for such ruthless gamesmanship.

The women in question are all brilliantly-drawn characters who have clearly been rocked by their encounter with 'the man'.

First up, there's Catherine Tate's 'happily married' Sam, his college sweetheart who suddenly found herself rejected with no explanation.

Schwimmer's presence exposes buried feelings and Tate quickly emerges as someone who was forever changed (and shaped) by the man's rejection, even though she manages to turn the tables on him slightly during their confrontation.

Next up is Sara Powell's Tyler, a hip, sexually-liberated dope-smoker who allowed 'the man' to indulge his sexual fantasies, even though she was aware he may still have been in love with someone else.

And then there's Lesley Manville's Lindsay, an older woman and fellow teacher, with whom he 'enjoyed' an illicit affair, until her husband found out and he fled with only a phone call by way of an explanation.

Finally, there's Saffron Burrows' Bobbi, an intelligent, sophisticated nurse, who may be the real reason for 'the man's' journey.

All deliver convincing, even exceptional performances as the scorned women in question (Powell emerging as the stand-out), playing well off Schwimmer's anxious attempts to seek answers for himself during those final, nervous days of bachelorhood.

The irony is that for all of the man's smooth-talking bravado, he is actually just an awkward, insecure male, desperate to validate the choices he has made, no matter how pathetic it makes him seem.

Schwimmer, for his part, makes the transition seemlessly, switching from the amiable loner we first see to someone altogether more slippery and unsympathetic.

Yes, there are elements of his TV creation, Ross Geller (in Friends), but they merely serve as a smoke-screen to the real deal, and each encounter succeeds in stripping away (sometimes literally) another layer of his persona, exposing the bravado he frequently refers to for the folly that it is.

With LaBute's barbed script to guide him, it makes for a fascinating, even provocative night at the theatre, and one that is certain to provide plenty of food for thought afterwards.

At a little over 80 minutes, it's a sharp, incisive piece that marks a triumphant debut for Schwimmer in the West End.

Order tickets now!

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