Saturday, 19 March 2011

Review: Whenever I Get Blown Up I Think Of You - Molly Naylor

Powerful, eloquent, humbling and simultaneously laugh and tear inducing

In Cambridge on Friday night Molly Naylor performed the opening night of her UK tour like she had been doing it forever and, yet, it was fresh, natural, unrehearsed and word perfect all at the same time. It is difficult to know where to start to explain what Molly's solo performance is about. I could tell you about it by repeating her story, but that doesn't really do it the justice it deserves. I could list the emotions and feelings her monologue touches on and creates, but that wouldn't even come close to capturing her powerful and engaging delivery. I could describe her appearance, her Converse and rucksack, and her stage presence, but I wouldn't paint an accurate picture of her glinting eyes, her open honesty and perfectly constructed prose. You will just have to go and see it yourself:

Molly's solo spoken word performance could not be further from the cliched accounts of horror and despair that one might expect from a play about the 7/7 London tube bombings. During the 50 minute monologue Molly calmly and unblinkingly depicts the "matter-of-factness" and futility of life after surviving a massive crisis - whilst remembering that it wasn't even that great before. To an audience of just over a handful of people, Molly reveals her hopes, dreams and fears in a flowing, witty and heartbreaking story of life, love and listlessness. She engages the audience immediately with her chatty dialogue and ability to capture a scene with a few clever captions, thrown out of her mouth with wry little smiles that bounce into the audience's laps... and hearts. Molly sums up emotions and observations in a couple of lines that would take most of us hours of stuttering, playing down and apologising to communicate. Her stage presence and delivery is as flawless as her resolve - steady, unflinching and with just the right amounts of connection and detachment... so you believe her pain, but you know that life goes on.

Molly's story takes the audience from Cornwall to London to Wales (to hell?) and back again. We follow her, enraptured, as an ambitious teenager desperate to fly the nest. We wait with bated breath for tragedy to strike, as we slope around London after Molly, through bar jobs, parties and falling in love. We crash in despair, with the naivety of those hoping for a happy ending, when Molly stares death and pain and loss and ghosts in the face. We dry our tears and suddenly manage a laugh as Dad comes to the rescue. Throughout, Molly is young and old, humble and unapologetic, fragile and strong, all at once. Never has someone managed to illustrate so eloquently what it feels like to survive, to come out the other side, when you think you'll never get there and still questioning "what's the point?" when you do arrive.

This tale is one that is close to my heart for many reasons and I hope I have accurately represented it and how it touched me.

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