Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating *
Cast: Denise Gough, Tom Hughes, Owen McDonnell, Siobhan Cullen, Sean McGinley, Aoibhinn McGinnity, Jane Brennan, Emily Taaffe, Ameilia Metcalfe, Jonny Holden, Edward MacLiam, Ciarán McMenamin, Aislin McGuckin, David Herlihy, Rachael Dowling, Marty Maguire, Dylan Breen, Gary Liburn, David Pearse.
It is infuriating when a drama on television cannot decide if it is one thing or another, especially when in theory the premise of the story is not bad, a light entertainment by the small screen and one willing to find a way to bring a necessary point of view to the adult conversation. Yet in Paula, the makers of the programme managed to make a perfectly good idea somehow unpalatable, degrading and almost thrown straight into the bin where all other nonsense is kept.
Nonsense, and despite the appearance of Tom Hughes, Denise Gough and Aislin McGurkin in the three part story, because of its rambling style, the damage done to the central character of Paula was one that almost felt unbelievable and only when she turned the screw on her pursuer, of the man that taken her life and held it to mental ransom, did she even come close to being a woman to whom an audience could even relate to? Nonsense because of the way the story line flitted between being a ghost story, which could have worked to one of revenge and bitterness of actions taken long ago, one in which part of the story line was lost in substantial plot holes and the possible ego of the production team behind it.
Paula feels like an ill fitting suit which has been supposedly tailored in front of you, you saw the tape measure and the tailor do its work, you marvelled at the way you felt comfortable with the thought of spending time in the hands of a professional and for once in your life you dedicated yourself to the feel of wearing it out in public, to stride through town in a confident smile. Somehow though as soon as you walked out of sight of the shop, the threads came loose, the colour, which had looked resplendent in the mirror and under the lights, became faded and dull and whilst every rip in the fabric became apparent, you could not help but notice your receipt proclaimed a 100 percent mark up on what you agreed.
To have that thrown against you, the ill fitting and rag tag suit of television, to even find something of praise is almost impossible, perhaps the fastener held, the belt they threw in for free did its job but underneath the gloss of what could have been a great idea made real, the only moments of note were those towards its end, the psychological desperate moments in which Denise Gough and Tom Hughes proved themselves to be more than just a belt.
A very disappointing affair, a programme which had been built up but ultimately fell to pieces; as drama goes, Paula was a tiresome and not very gilded production.
Ian D. Hall