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Our New Girl
The prickly first scene sees Hazel emphatically explaining to Annie why she cannot stay and should return to the agency. The kitchen is full of bottles of olive oil from Hazel's foray into a new business with an inspirational woman, Alessandra, whom she met on holiday in Italy. The boxes of bottles of olive oil keep on arriving in London. As Hazel gets more exasperated, Annie is suitably determined and obdurate countering every one of Hazel's objections as to why she can't be their nanny. Indeed over the next couple of days the girl from Sligo seems the perfect choice for the idiosyncratic and disturbed little boy until his vain and self regarding father arrives home from Haiti where he has been operating on burns victims after the earthquake.
Kate Fleetwood is in top form with her tense defence of her territory against the arch manipulator, her husband who is a self righteous hypocrite. If there is any weakness in this domestic comedy it is in the obnoxiousness of Richard's character. We are subjected to his views on what women/girls want and his perception of women and childbirth. Mark Bazeley develops this weasel of a character's persona superbly well with his mealy mouthed, long winded explanations to Daniel as he tries to demonstrate his awareness of what are good parenting skills. I liked too Denise Gough's openness and candour as Annie the Nanny, until cornered when she lies with surprising expertise, nailing her colours to Richard's mast.
All the action takes place in Hazel's spacious kitchen with Daniel creeping downstairs to eavesdrop on adult conversations, hidden from view under the kitchen table, behind the cardboard boxes of designer olive oil. Charlotte Gwimmer directs deftly extracting some brilliantly timed asides and raised eyebrow stares from the marvellous Kate Fleetwood.
This is a delightful play, examining sexual politics as well as the conflicts of career and motherhood, by Nancy Harris, the Pearson Playwright in Residence at The Bush and I look forward to seeing more of her writing.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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