Glamour and grime in Soho
London in the late 1940s was a golden age for the world’s oldest profession.
David O’Donnell said in those days the sex industry was very active.
‘‘ Men were coming back from the war. Society was in a poor state and the police were very tolerant of prostitution.’’
That was to change with a major crackdown in the 1950s, but for a time glamorous women trod Soho’s streets and worked the sordid trade.
The late Barbara Tate entered this world as a naive young woman to become a prostitute’s maid.
West End Girls was her autobiography and Wellington playwright Ken Duncum has dramatised it.
The play’s world premiere was at Circa Theatre last week, directed by O’Donnell.
‘‘It is very much a comingof-age story,’’ he said. ‘‘ Barbara enters an unbelievable seedy world, but at its core her story is about an incredibly strong friendship between the women.’’
The sex workers were all very well-dressed, wore tailored clothes and were very elegant, he said.
Plays and films about prostitution are often about its dark side, O’Donnell said.
‘‘This is very much a celebration of the job – these women going about their job with glamour and humour.’’
He and the cast interviewed some Wellington sex workers, he said.
‘‘ It was interesting that nothing had changed. The women said that it was more comedy than tragedy.’’
West End Girls is at Circa Theatre until September 1. It contains adult themes and content that may offend some people. To book call 801 7992 or visit circa.co.nz.
Please write kicker and caption: From left, Gavin Rutherford, Jessica Robinson, Paul Waggott and Victoria Abbott.