In Review

Dark Vanilla Jungle – reviews of 'riveting' new stage show

Game of Thrones's Gemma Whelan 'brilliantly harrowing' as teenage sex slave, say critics

Dark Vanilla Jungle

What you need to know Philip Ridley's Dark Vanilla Jungle featuring Game of Thrones' Gemma Whelan has transferred to the Soho Theatre, London. Whelan, best known as Yara Greyjoy in the fantasy TV series, gives an "extraordinary performance" in Ridley's 75-minute monologue, which first appeared as a sell-out Edinburgh Fringe Festival show last year.

She plays Andrea, a lonely, desperate teenage girl, abandoned by her parents, groomed as a sex slave by a gangland pimp and pushed to do the unthinkable. David Mercatali directs. Runs until 13 April.

What the critics likeGemma Whelan is "brilliantly harrowing as she performs this stomach-churning monologue", says Henry Hitchings in the Evening Standard. Whelan's vertigo-inducing performance captures the brutality and urgency of this work from the master of lyrical unpleasantness, Philip Ridley.

Ridley takes us into the dark crevasses of experience and "Whelan is amazing as a little girl lost", says Aleks Sierz on the Arts Desk. This compelling piece of drama feels real and dangerous, and with Ridley in the tank, and Whelan at the wheel, it's an unforgettable ride.

What makes the story so riveting – as well as deeply depressing – is "the extraordinary performance of Whelan", says Paul Taylor in The Independent. She plays the audience like an incantatory harpy, pleading for attention and unravelling her story without drawing breath or dropping a syllable.

What they don't like"Ridley tends to explore the darker reaches of the human psyche - but /Dark Vanilla Jungle/ is grim even by his own standards," says Laura Barnett in the Daily Telegraph. And while Whelan gives a tremendous performance, Ridley undermines the emotional impact by piling misery upon misery until it becomes unconvincing. 

Recommended

The Mirror and the Light on stage – what the critics are saying
Scene from The Mirror and the Light
In Review

The Mirror and the Light on stage – what the critics are saying

Dracula: The Untold Story
Image from performance of Dracula: The Untold Story
In Review

Dracula: The Untold Story

Back to the Future musical: a crowd-pleasing ‘triumph’
Olly Dobson as Marty McFly and Roger Bart as Doc Brown in Back to the Future the musical
In Review

Back to the Future musical: a crowd-pleasing ‘triumph’

Frozen the Musical
Scene from Frozen on stage
In Review

Frozen the Musical

Popular articles

Why a ‘super-cold’ is spreading
flu_sneeze.jpg
Getting to grips with . . .

Why a ‘super-cold’ is spreading

Former nurse says NHS made her ‘fart against her will’
A nurse
Tall Tales

Former nurse says NHS made her ‘fart against her will’

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 13 October 2021
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 13 October 2021

The Week Footer Banner