Seeking promotion, television and radio presenter Jo Anne Taylor (Louise Jameson) considers cosmetic surgery. Although this could be a fascinating topic to explore, unfortunately, Pulling Faces, written by Helen Goldwyn, is a disappointingly shallow look at a subject of growing importance.
It is the norm to judge people by their appearance in television but the question of how these standards came to be applied also in wider society is ignored. Taylor’s motivation is practical – she hopes for a better job. The spiritual revelation that concludes the play does not seem an appropriate way of satisfying this aspiration.
Jameson is the sole performer and creates a range of characters of both sexes through a variety of accents and body language. She does not succeed, however, in making Taylor a sympathetic person. She remains someone who has enjoyed, and seeks to prolong, the benefits of being beautiful.
Director Nigel Fairs manipulates the non-human aspects of the play very well. Great comic impact is achieved by exaggerated sound effects. His slow pacing though is not suitable for a comedy, as it drags the laughter out. The conclusion, in which the characters bump into each other, would draw humour from the concept of a one woman/man show if played at speed.
Sadly, Pulling Faces is only skin deep in its look at the beauty industry.
- Dave Cunningham