There are glimmers of genius in the swamp, ideas which have merit, terrific merit. Questions of nature versus nurture are raised but quickly subdued, washed out by confusion onstage. Paper Doll is that breed of production where ideas are thrown into the audience, many half-formed, some brilliant and the others just confusing.
What does it take to fix broken love? A romantic weekend away? A unique gift? Very rarely do we witness the more violent side and intentions some find in love. Brutality in a raw form, which feels less cat and mouse and more passed back and forth. A dance is conducted on stage, at times passionate but other times uncomfortable and repetitious. It feels like physical movement added purely to fill the space of exposition.
If it’s the productions intent to find neither character likeable, they succeed. Though, it’s clear neither is to be a true protagonist or villain. Both Jen and Rog are performed with passion, particularly Jen. There’s an edge to her character which requires a mastering of both predator and prey. We never really know if Jen is most dangerous to Rog or herself.
Never one to spoil, it’s difficult to convey the perplexing nature the plot takes with the promised “surprise” Rog has on offer. Suffice to say, we jump genres and quite heavily too. Interesting questions surrounding themes of Love and its complex interlocking relationships with death, companionship and danger are shifted, for a philosophical science lesson.
The real issue present in Paper Doll is the focus. The writing can never concentrate on one aspect to dissect. Diving into the complexities of feeling anything, even pain, whilst numb cannot be swept aside by shark jumping science-fiction motifs. If we are to really try and analyse the human condition and if/ought we have the right to create or take a life in the name of love, make this the focus from the start. Or tie the two acts together in a tighter fashion.
Paper Doll reflects its namesake remarkably; complex to make but alas, the more added to the chain, the thinner the end result.