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Purple Tape Productions: [Your Name] - Review by Daniel Conway

Some things get a bad reputation not because of any truth or reality, but because of the impression that some people outside a community have gathered and proliferated. The world of fanfiction, for example, if some people are believed is just a place for porn to be published where tv and film characters are subjected to sexual exploits with all the nuance and grace of two Barbies being smashed together. Don’t get me wrong, it is that, but it is also a space where young people engage in shared storytelling and foster community, and sure that might include a developmentally accurate understanding of developmentally inappropriate acts, but who are we to judge? [Your Name] is a story of friendship, development, and fable on correctly naming documents.

 




Written by Kate Bubalo and directed by Lily Hayman [Your Name] is a hilarious show that captures the intensity of teenage emotion levelled with great heaps of irony. Hayman’s direction had some truly inspired choices that helped to dial up the absurdity of the fanfiction scenes and contrast with the intensity of the emotions felt by the girls in their real lives. Working with Intimacy Coordinator Shondelle Pratt and the performers Hayman and co captured the Barbies smashing their bits together sexuality of fanfiction to raucous laughter on the preview performance I attended. The exaggerated noises and motions coupled with the hilarious and intentionally overworked dialogue by Bubalo made for uncomfortably fun viewing, but also made me acutely aware of how vital intimacy coordination must be for this production. I mentioned the Barbies before, now picture how that looks when it is humans. You would need to be explicitly comfortable with the person performing with you and if you are not, the audience will be uncomfortable for the wrong reasons. Hayman and her team have clearly created a safe environment that has allowed for a play with this content to be done so successfully.  

 



The KXT space is intimate with the performance space being in the centre of the room with two viewing bays of seats on either side, this is a challenging space, but Hayman and her team did a wonderful job at using the space for full effect. The lighting and sound design, by Tyler Fitzpatrick and Claire Hennessy, was effective in isolating spaces of the stage when the action needed to be centralised while also creating depth in the performance through the atmosphere. I will give a warning, while the direction of this play is mindful of sightlines and playing to all sides of the stage, where I was sitting there was a sightline issue whenever things were happening in and around the lone set piece on stage.

 

Central to the show is the friendship of Nadine (Georgia McGuinness), Petra (Evelina Singh) and Kris (Lola Bond). These three women play their roles to perfection and their characterisation is strong and consistent. Having been a teacher for over a decade, the performances felt very real to the group dynamics you would see in any school playground. I know who each of those girls is and that is communicated in every part of their performance from the quick delivery of Singh, playing a girl full of energy and bravado to the quiet confidence of McGuiness, whose physicality painted a picture of someone deeply uncomfortable in their body, but trying to hide it. The bubbly Kris showcased Bond’s comedic skill with one of my favourite moments being her delivery of the line “What does culpable mean”. There is a clear sense that these girls have internal lives, some of which are explicitly explored, while some might be my inference from watching an excellent performance. It is obvious that Hayman worked hard to ensure that the dynamics of this group were on point, and it has paid off. The play is divided into two “realities” the real life of the girls and the world of the fanfiction. In both worlds, the girls are joined by Andrew Fraser as Mr Isaacs in the real world and the love interest Larry in the fanfiction. Fraser is hilarious in his role. The separation of the characters is very clear, Mr Isaacs has all the energy and authority of a 23-year-old PE teacher who wants to be the kids' friend, while Larry is pompous and camp. All the performers had engaging physicality, but Fraser had some of the most outlandish moments and his final costume change truly broke me on the night.

 




[Your Name] is a wonderful piece of theatre that made me think of Fangirls, both texts take something that young women get ridiculed about and use it to talk about the reality of growing up and how these things can help you figure out who you are, what you want and when you are ready to explore it. Fanfiction is a legitimate form of expression and can be a place of community and bonding, even if it includes some truly horrific euphemisms for genitals.  

 

I recommend [Your Name] to anyone who has ever wondered who the author of My Immortal was, or even knows what I am talking about.


Photography courtesy of Georgia Brogan

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