Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model sees Bryony Kimmings, the dinosaur, and her 10-year-old niece Taylor, the faun, go on a journey to create the pop star palaeontologist Catherine Bennett.
After sixteen family meetings it was agreed that Taylor could be a part of an art project with auntie Bryony, who immersed herself in the world of tweens to work out how to combat the commodification and sexualisation of young girls, resulting in the creation of a tuna pasta eating, knee length skirt wearing, celebrity role model.
In front of a sparkly forest with sprigs and a mossy floor, the faun and the dinosaur dance, prance and ask a lot of questions. Bryony shares some of the facts from her research for the project, whilst Taylor shares normal stuff from her life, and the combination of the two builds a bleak picture of ‘tweenhood’. It’s not all doom and gloom though, there’s lots of glitter, an energetic fight training montage, a rousing climactic piece of spoken word and silly choreographed audience dancing.
The impact of the piece isn’t so much in the subject being tackled, significant as it is, but more in its process. Taylor clearly had a great input in the project and the way Bryony shared the space with her (literally and thematically) gave the show a great sense of the vulnerability, realness and freshness that all come with youth. The affinity and interactions between Bryony and Taylor also really drew out the ideas of sisterhood and protection, two elements needed to inspire the changes that Taylor, Bryony and Catherine Bennett have set out to make.
Having previously made self-referential shows about STIs (Sex Idiot) and drunkenness (7 Day Drunk), what's powerful about Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model is the story of how Bryony’s conscience was pricked and how she’s trying to take on something greater than herself. Bryony now also acts as the kooky Catherine Bennett; she does performances in schools and at theatres for children, introducing them to ‘CB’ and leading talks on subjects like body image, equality and role models.
The show is unsettling, but also moving and inspiring. There is genuine grief in Bryony’s voice in the epilogue, at her realisation that Taylor is going to grow up. She’ll outgrow not just her costumes in the show, but one day she’ll even outgrow Catherine Bennett. Both Taylor’s childhood and Bryony’s performance projects are fragile and fleeting, which is perhaps why they make such a perfect pair.