DramaLondonReviewVAULT Festival

Ask Me Anything – VAULT Festival, London.

Reviewer: Louise Burns

Writers: The Paper Birds

Director: Jemma McDonnell

As a teenager, no matter what decade, life is bewildering. Finding ways to talk about mental health, sex, love and loss can feel isolating. Although perhaps little too earnest at times, this well-intentioned show, Ask Me Anything, attempts to create a platform for young voices to be heard.

Georgie Coles, Rosie Doonan and Kylie Perry perform as themselves in this spoken word and music-based conversation with young people. A box of letters takes centre stage, representing the angsts and urgent questions from British teenagers. Their muffled voices implore to be heard. The talented musical trio take the responsibility of listening seriously, but memories of their youth and current life interfere. This becomes much of the focus for the evening.

The shape of this show becomes a little too much about the performers, rather than the teenagers awaiting replies. The latter did receive answers – off stage, and this performance is a culminating response to their exchanges of letters. It is sometimes over-curated. The performers share who they are, although these identities are safely reconstructed. Where the show does away with theatre convention, a candid shape appears. The melodic songs of Rosie Doonan are a welcome addition, as are the moving projections of friends and family sharing their intimate stories via recorded video.

This play does engage with the chaos of modern life. For most of us, mobile phones, social media and search engines are learned methods for communication and seeking information. The stage is busy with technology, screens, and live cameras. This deluge of the modern age jostles for space alongside nostalgic teletext and oyster shaped telephones. A generic Siri interjects her replies. It wants to be a part of the solution, but as a digital assistant ‘Bridge IT’ doesn’t have the human nuances.

People don’t always get it right, but a connection is made. There could be more of this. A genuine moment of miscommunication occurs quite early on when Rosie is talking with an audience member. He gives his age; she mishears it as 20 years older: ‘Oh my god’ Rosie exclaims ‘You look really good!’ – provoking warm laughter. This spontaneous human connection is where hope replies.

Runs until 16 February, 2020

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