Alecky Blythe's The Girlfriend Experience is a verbatim-theatre play about a seaside brothel that specialises in services to an older clientele. It was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London, on 18 September 2008.
The play was created and performed using the verbatim-theatre techniques developed by Blythe with her company Recorded Delivery, and previously seen in her plays Come Out Eli (Arcola Theatre, 2003) and Cruising (Bush Theatre, 2006). The play is composed entirely from conversations recorded inside an actual brothel, edited and replicated on stage with meticulous verisimilitude. (Some names and place names in the script were changed.)
Tessa has set up a business: a brothel where mature women specialise in offering the ‘Girlfriend Experience’, a surprisingly caring and sympathetic service for their clientele. As the women (Amber, Poppy and Suzie) stoically strive to make a living in a competitive market, their personal lives start to crumble. The quartet reveal their thwarted desires, including a chance at a real monogamous relationship and their feelings about being ‘girlfriends’ themselves. There is a short introductory voice-over spoken by a character called Alecky, which serves to explain the verbatim-theatre technique used in the play.
The Royal Court premiere was directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins and designed by Lizzie Clachan, with Debbie Chazen as Tessa, Esther Coles as Amber, Lu Corfield as Poppy, Beatie Edney as Suzie and Alex Lowe as Man (playing various punters).
The production transferred to the Young Vic, London, on 29 July 2009 (previews from 24 July).