Award-winning writer/performer Molly Naylor has some ideas to share – with a little help from a feathered fiend, who may not quite be the monster it seems. Review by Jeremy Day.
Molly Naylor’s frank, funny and fearless spoken word show starts fast, in a revelatory tumble of hooks and hints about a true story about a very strange time in her life. The story’s roots run deep into childhood’s silences, and its hard social spaces of loss and confusion. The show performs in a bare space, basic black lit by the occasional spatter of brutal red, restless as Naylor paces back and forth, shedding and throwing off and wrapping round veils of story and incident, complex and contradictory as experience itself.
The difficult, answerable questions she promises to explore (How can we stop ourselves from feeling bad? How can we stop others from feeling bad?), the drunken mistakes and lurches she gets lost in, and the emotional revelations that buffet and bruise - these all weave and wander into crystal moments of startling clarity. A fox in the headlights, a mistimed but desperately needed drink in a bar, the sound of a beak tap-tap-tapping at a rainy train window.
Buffeted by alternating blasts of hilarity, giddy honesty and laugh-out-loud moments, Stop Trying to be Fantastic ignores its own advice, repeatedly. Each pause and tumble back and forth in time adds a new layer of complexity, further hints at revelation. But this exploration of altruism, honesty and need is only deceptively complex; tap it gently and it collapses into something more basic, more intense. Not just what we owe to each other, what we owe to ourselves, but what we get, whether we deserve it or not.
Curiosity, compassion and open, questioning acceptance are the flavour of an evening which revels in contradictions and conditional revelation: a true story that can’t be quite that, a narrative flurry that carries you too fast past crises and delights, and long night drives where dreams and disasters collide.