Meet Pauline, a woman so prudish she can’t even bring herself to utter the word ‘toilet’ for all the lewdness it entails. She’s not like how a woman named Pauline should be, or at least that’s how she feels. She’s a bit dowdy and fusty, not interested in having a mobile phone or using that interwebby thingy. However, Finding Libby sees Pauline go through something of a personal renaissance. Over the course of a pleasant canal-boat holiday she is forced to re-encounter and come to terms with her past, allowing for a happier future.
Written and performed by Kate Saffin, this wonderful one-woman-show shows great attention to detail in the characterisation of Pauline, a woman we feel we all know someone a bit like. The other characters in the story are equally authentic and never fall into caricature. Mostly Pauline just tells us about those other characters, but occasionally Saffin acts out conversations Pauline shares, and she does this so well she manages to include in her performance an element of Pauline’s judgement and opinion of the character. This stands testament how well-crafted Pauline is as a protagonist.
A small element letting down the believable world Kate’s acting and writing created was the slightly awkward scene changes and design elements. Dimming the lights further and playing the sound effects in the dark would enable you to imagine what took place between each scene; instead it was a little static and took you out of the world of the play as Saffin, and the audience, had to wait for her cue to reappear as Pauline.
In terms of writing, the structure and pace of the monologue was just right, though Pauline’s emancipation from the confines of her past is maybe a little quick and might have wanted a little more stage time to settle in. Also as a performer, Kate Saffin is extremely apt, the clarity of her speech and projection meant no word was lost and she could easily hold the audience’s attention. Her movement was also precise, whether lifting a bridge or scuttling about her cabin on the canal boat: she brought spaces to life on the very bare stage.
A warm and wistful, witty and wise one-woman-show.