004 – The Revlon Girl, by Neil Anthony Docking
It is June 1967 and a group of women are gathering in a function room of the hotel in a small Welsh mining village for a demonstration of beauty tips by a rep from the Revlon cosmetics company. The women are keeping the Revlon Girl’s visit a secret from others, because they fear that their neighbours may not think it appropriate that they treat themselves to a beauty session. This is because it is only eight months since a coal tip above the village collapsed, engulfing the local school and killing 116 children and 28 adults. Five of these children belonged to the mothers who are meeting in this hotel in Aberfan, to talk, cry and even laugh, without feeling guilty.
Neil Anthony Docking’s heartrending and funny play The Revlon Girl premiered at the Edinburgh Festival in 2017 before a run at the Park Theatre in London, which earned it an Olivier Nomination and the 2018 Off-West End Theatre Award for Best New Play. The play asks us to consider how one can carry on after such tragic personal loss? Who should be blamed: the National Coal Board or God? And how can we ensure that such preventable disasters never occur again – a question unbearably topical as the Grenfell fire demonstrated only weeks before the play premiered.
I’m delighted to be joined in this episode down the line from his home in London by the author himself.
Neil Anthony Docking
Neil was born in South Wales, and studied music at the University of Westminster before finding work as a writer in press, television, radio and film, where his credits include Casualty, Emmerdale, Nuts & Bolts, The Throne Room, Station Road and many more. He is married to the actor/director Maxine Evans, who also expertly directed the first productions of The Revlon Girl. The Revlon Girl is his first play for the theatre.
Neil recommended All My Sons by Arthur Miller.
We have footnotes for this episode …
More in our Footnotes to The Revlon Girl episode on the political aftermath of Aberfan, the Queen’s visit – or rather non-visit, and how the Revlon Girl’s sales patter hits a nerve.
BECOME A PATRON!
Since I launched The Play Podcast in April 2020, I have managed to eschew any form of advertising or sponsorship, and I would like to continue to produce the podcast without doing so. I therefore invite you to help me to continue to make the podcast by becoming a Patron.
Additional benefits available to Patrons include Footnotes on the plays covered in the podcast, as well as exclusive access to The Play Review.
For details click here
Thank you very much for listening and for your support.
If you are interested in buying the play text or other related books, we’d be delighted if you choose to purchase them by following the links below. We will earn a small commission on every book you purchase, which helps to keep the podcast going. You will also be supporting an independent bookseller. Thank you.
You might also be interested in …
Published 4th December
Lynn Nottage’s play Clyde’s is set in a truck-stop diner on the outskirts of Reading, Pennsylvania. This is no ordinary diner though, because the short-order cooks that make the sandwiches that the diner is famous for are all ex-cons. But the eponymous proprietor, Clyde, has not offered these characters a second chance out of the softness of her heart.
Lynn Nottage has won the Pulitzer Prize for drama twice, and as we record this episode the European preview of Clyde’s is on stage at the Donmar Warehouse in London. I am delighted to be joined by the show’s director Lynette Linton, who also directed Nottage’s last play Sweat at the same theatre in 2018.
The poet Percy Shelley called King Lear “the most perfect specimen of the dramatic art existing in the world”. It is a prodigious play in every sense. There are ten major roles, it has multiple significant plot lines, an elemental stormy setting, intense domestic conflict, and acts of war and violence which roll on with a propulsive tragic energy and conjure a challenging philosophical vision.
As we record this episode a new production directed by and starring Sir Kenneth Branagh arrives in London’s West End.
I am very pleased to be joined in this episode by Paul Prescott, who is an academic, writer and theatre practitioner specialising in Shakespearean drama.
Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge tells the tragic story of Eddie Carbone, a longshoreman who works on the docks under Brooklyn Bridge. Eddie lives with his wife Beatrice and 17-year old niece, Catherine, whom they have cared for since she was a child. But Catherine is no longer a child, and her natural desire to pursue her own life will tragically rupture the lives of this family and the close-knit immigrant community of Red Hook.
As we record this episode a new production of A View from the Bridge is touring the UK, and I’m delighted to talk with its director, Holly Race Roughan, about this powerful play.