Note: The following review dates from the play's run at the West End's Victoria Palace in March 1998.
'If this woman of yours won't let you knob her, chuck her.'
I don't think I've heard a crasser line on the stage, but then Girl's Night Out is as shoddy an attempt at theatre as I've had the misfortune to see. I just about made it to the interval before I determined that my life was too short to endure another hour of such contrived rubbish.
There's no mystery as to why Girl's Night Out - which has been germinating for three years - has suddenly arrived in London. With the huge success of The Full Monty, there's money to be made in male stripping - particularly if you can claim to be balancing groins with grit. Amazingly, that's the assertion writer Dave Simpson makes in the programme - 'the dynamics of the play wouldn't be male stripping with surround scenes as wall-paper; it would be funny, with dramatic and character developments and...with several layers.'
Who are you kidding, Dave? Male stripping with wall-paper just about sums up this play, based around a hen-night trip to The Feast of Flesh revue.
There are no dramatic developments save those Simpson has culled from his 'theatre by numbers' primer. The characterisation is so formulaic that we know that cocky stripper Darren will be afflicted with undersized genitalia and p.e. (that's premature ejaculation not physical education - their joke, not mine.) Similarly, we know that Robbie will turn out to be gay as soon as we glimpse his bleached-blonde hair and the way he rubs baby-oil into Darren's shoulders.
If Simpson undercooks the scenes featuring the male characters, he doesn't even get round to defrosting the women. You can tell he thinks he's got a winning recipe. Take one part Vera Duckworth and one part Lily Savage, and, hey presto, you've got tarty matron Aunty Ivy. Throw in a few mentions of naughty bits (thank you Shirley Valentine!). Oh, and why not steal the fake-orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally? One thing you can say about this play - it certainly gives you a heightened appreciation of the originals.
And that's about all there is to say. I hope you won't feel I let you down by my leaving at the interval. Dave says in the programme that he hopes it will be 'a good night out for everyone' and it was - just as soon as I had left the theatre.
Justin Somper, March 1998