AMERICAN playwright and performer Denise Stewart plunges into this autobiographical show with energy and verve.
Her starting point is the death of her father – a violent alcoholic who is not much missed – when she is five, and her mother’s heroic decision to move her family across half a continent from Wyoming to North Carolina.
But they don’t manage to leave their troubles behind. Stewart’s fairly typical adolescent woes – bullying or being bullied, learning about sex, worrying about weight – take place against the backdrop of her mother’s battle with alcoholism. Her funny, poignant story is both nostalgia-fest and misery memoir.
At times, this feels like a series of vignettes about girlhood rather than a play. Greater shaping would give the larger narrative more power, and the reccurring references to Barbie, which hint at the gap between real and ideal womanhood, could be further explored.
Stewart’s performance shifts, at times disconcertingly, between a portrayal of her exuberant younger self and the adult who looks back thoughtfully at her experience. But there is no doubting the sincerity of this heartfelt material, nor its raw emotional appeal.
• Until 27 August. Today 1:30pm.
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