Our New Girl

By Nancy Harris newgirl

Directed by Joe Jahraus

At Profiles, The Main Stage, Chicago

Technical and script problems plague Our New Girl

Irish playwright Nancy Harris’ Our New Girl is a troubled work on several levels. For the first 15 minute or so, a loud fan wailed above the stage  rendering most of the early dialogue unintelligible until finally the board operator finally shout down that noisy fan. But by then important information was lost. Inexcusable.

To add to out woes, Hazel (Sarah Chelcroft), the mother and Daniel (Killian Hughes) and their new nanny, Annie (Miriam Canfield) each had such low speaking volume (ever after that fan was shut down) that especially Killian Hughes simply could not be heard since they spoke much too softly. I was sitting in the first row only a few feet from the boy yet I couldn’t hear him. Why doesn’t tell him to speak loud enough to be heard? Add  the fast tempo and the running of words together by both Chalcroft and Canfield and the early scenes are much too hard to either hear or understand. This should not be the case.

OUR NEW GIRL - press photo 2

What I did get was that Richard (Layne Manzer), the doctor has a personal mission to do surgeries on poor third world patients rendering him constantly traveling. Hazel, Daniel’s mother, is an emotional  woman who finds having another baby a daunting task. She is also at wit’s end as how to handle their eight year old son who my be a sociopath, and possibly incorrigible.

Richard, who seems to always off on a charitable endeavor, hires a nanny, Annie to help with Daniel and the household chores. Hazel was surprised and doesn’t like having a nanny. Gradually, Annie quickly bonds With Daniel at the expense of Hazel becoming the authority figure in the household.  Richard and Annie talk a most liberal stance toward disciplining Daniel. Over time, Hazel never trusts Annie and she never fully trusts Richard. When a problem occurs after Hazel buys a large spider  for Daniel, we see how little Richard respects Hazel as a mother and as a wife.

Much of the last scenes in this supposedly psychological drama are predictable as the action seems forced as we consider how long it would take for Hazel to figure out Richards game. I also never bought that suddenly Daniel would behave now that Hazel is paying more attention or him. Also, after being overwrought with emotions, now, suddenly, she has her live together. What?

This play comes off as an artificial work almost devoid of reality. How could a super-smart lawyer be so clueless about her husband? In reality, Hazel would never let Annie stay in her house even on the first day.

Somewhat Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: May 15, 2015

For more info checkout the Our New Girl page at theatreinchicago.com

At Profiles, Theatre’s Main Stage, 4147. No Broadway, Chicago, IL, call 773-549-1815, www.profilestheatre.org, tickets $35 – $40, Thursdays or $35, Fridays, Saturdays $40, Thursdays & Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 5p,. Sundays at 7pm, rinning time is 2 hours with intermission, through June 28, 2015