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The Only Girl in the World
The Only Girl in the World

Arena Theatre presents Glyn Maxwell's

The Only Girl in the World

Directed by Alexander Sanderson with permission from Micheline Steinberg Associates by kind permission of Glyn Maxwell

A play about the final victim of Jack the Ripper, Mary Kelly. Mary is sexy and devil-may-care; Joseph Barnett is a steady, decent sort. Just another couple struggling to keep love alive in the sordid East End of London in 1888: and a man who slaughters prostitutes, calling himself 'Jack', is stalking his prey by night. Set around the narrow backstreets and noisy pubs of Whitechapel, and based on the information collected by the police and news reporters about Mary's life.




  • Performance Dates
  • Thu, 20 Apr 2017 19:45 at Bournemouth Little Theatre
  • Fri, 21 Apr 2017 19:45 at Bournemouth Little Theatre
  • Sat, 22 Apr 2017 19:45 at Bournemouth Little Theatre
Blog Updates
Alexander Sanderson - Character Descriptions      06/08/2016

"Only Girl in the World- audition character descriptions:
Mary Jane Kelly- playing age 23-26
The final victim of Jack the Ripper. A vivacious Whitechapel prostitute of Irish/Welsh decent, with a taste for frivolity and embellishing her past. An ability to do a light Welsh accent would be preferable.

Joseph Barnett- playing age 30-35
A foreman at Billingsgate market. Mary Kelly's lover and of a protective disposition. A Londoner born and bred so a London accent is a necessity- also a tendency to stammer when nervous.

Barman/Shadowy figure/Music Hall performer- Any age, male perhaps female
Almost entirely an unspoken role (aside from perhaps some Music Hall banter)- yet playing almost a constant on stage. Representing such characters as the barman/wench at the 'Ringers' pub, Music Hall performer, Mrs Van Turney and Mary Kelly's last 'gentleman' and a shadowy figure (perhaps The Ripper)."

Auditions are likely to be held at the end of November/beginning of December. Dates will be confirmed
Alexander Sanderson - Readthrough and Auditions      15/08/2016

A play about the final victim of Jack the Ripper, Mary Kelly. Mary is sexy and devil-may-care; Joseph Barnett is a steady, decent sort. Just another couple struggling to keep love alive in the sordid East End of London in 1888: and a man who slaughters prostitutes, calling himself 'Jack', is stalking his prey by night. Set around the narrow backstreets and noisy pubs of Whitechapel, and based on the information collected by the police and news reporters about Mary's life.

The readthrough will be held on Thursday, 24 November 2016, and auditions will take place the following week on Tuesday, 29 November 2016. Both events will be held at Pokesdown Community Primary School, Livingstone Road, Bournemouth, BH5 2AS, and will start at 7.30pm.
(Please come into the school via the car park, and not the main gate - thank you)
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Reviews
John Newth

Do you ever come out of a theatre asking yourself, ‘Why did the author bother to write that?’ On the rare occasions when I do, my first reaction is that I must have missed something of deep significance in or about the play. In the case of The Only Girl in the World, I’m pretty sure I didn’t: Glyn Maxwell has achieved distinction as a poet, novelist and playwright, but in this case he has come up with a turkey. He is writing about Mary Jane Kelly, the last victim of Jack the Ripper, and even though one hardly expects from a playwright of Maxwell’s type a graphically gory narrative or a version of the whodunnit, it is reasonable to look for some sort of dramatic tension or for the creation of atmosphere or for a sense of purpose or for interesting character development. In this production anyway, one looks in vain.
The play is based around Mary Jane’s relationship with Joseph Barnett, a foreman at Billingsgate. He is an innocent who starts the play with a good job, reasonable lodgings and a strong moral sense. Falling under Mary Jane’s spell, he loses all of these, yet he remains an innocent abroad, never realising – or not admitting to himself that he realises – exactly how she earns enough to drink as much as she does. James Cowan conveys well Joseph’s frustration at not being able to pin down this will o’ the wisp character.
Mary Jane is indeed a lively free spirit, knowing and flirtatious, and the play never really explains satisfactorily why she ties herself to Joseph. She has a vicious streak, taunting Joe when he loses his job and giving him the sharp edge of her tongue when she comes home from the pub. Despite that, it is a strangely two-dimensional part; Katrina Harman does her best with it, and it would be interesting to see her playing a character with more depth.
However, both principals leave much to be desired in the clarity of their diction. There is no excuse for audibility problems in an auditorium the size of the Little Theatre, but swathes of dialogue are incomprehensible. At first I thought it might be the Cockney accents which were the difficulty, but it is more fundamental than that. Both Katrina and James are accomplished actors, but their first responsibility to both playwright and audience is to ensure that all the former’s words can be heard by the latter.
We are lucky to have a company as innovative as Arena Theatre in our area. They are forever pushing at the boundaries and their productions are always interesting and often first-rate, The History Boys and Brief Encounter being two recent examples. It is a high-risk strategy, though, and occasionally they will come a cropper. The Only Girl in the World is, I’m afraid, a cropper. It is at the Little Theatre on 21-22 April and the Mowlem, Swanage, on 6 May, all at 7.45.
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