Review: PAPER DOLLS ***

THEATRE

PAPER DOLLS Three stars

Paradise in the Vault (venue 29) 11.00

August 4th to 11th

This is Shaun Nolan’s first show. He is a very talented young guy who has been performing from an early age and has done much via YouTube and Apple Podcasts.

He greets us on a small stage, all in black, and becomes the store attendant who wants his women’s wear changing room to become unisex. He decides that this will happen and puts up a sign. He is also, at the same time, running as an independent in a parliamentary election.

His campaign gets strong reactions from customers and from the local press. He appears to get support from the Tory candidate, the very attractive James – but what lies behind that help?

Matters become increasingly complicated, and expand beyond the local. The store boss appears not to be exactly supportive. But our hero stands by his principles, even if he feels the need to tone down his sign, using the softer phrase “gender neutral.”

Shaun Nolan is very adept at presenting a range of characters to us in swift succession. He makes his gay identity very clear in character, and we are left wondering just what James wants to achieve by the kiss in the toilet – is he just leading on this trusting young campaigner?

I very much enjoyed this show. However, I could not see where the title Paper Dolls came in. Maybe it is just a usage I have not encountered. Whilst this was a very refreshing show, and I feel Shaun Nolan has much talent and potential, I feel he could have been braver. I had wondered if he might stretch to emphasizing his unisex changing room by having male and female elaborately dressed paper dolls at the entrance to his changing room. Or shown a love of cross-dressing in other ways. But this was clearly not his intention. Taken as it is, I would recommend the show as a stimulating morning show that will have you leaving with a smile and maybe wishing that the world contained fewer doors and cubicles.

Tony Challis