Quirky and engaging, this one-woman show tells the painful tale of coming of age. Olivia and Kay form a destructive friendship based on their common loss and position as outsiders. Told from the perspective of Olivia or Owl, the story sees them at the age of ten, before moving forward six years to confront two troubled teenagers.
Briony Horwitz gives a dynamic performance. She fills the minimal stage with her presence and conveys as much with her movements as her words. The show is extremely well choreographed, making the body the site of much expression and moving seamlessly between scenes. First we meet Olivia, a ten year old in a new place where only rocks and low ‘spiky, spiky things’ are planted, while Horwitz re-creates the actions and feelings of childhood. The only prop on stage is an armchair, which is twisted and turned throughout the performance to meet the needs of the story. Car-seat, bed, tree and table the armchair plays them all. Unfortunately it is slightly more apt at transforming than the actress, as some of the other figures represented are a little caricature. A few places desired toning down and I couldn’t work out why Kay was bestowed with an almost constant snarl.
Part way through the chair is decidedly tipped and we are thrown forward six years. Best friends Kay and Owl, are still getting into trouble at school. But they have also discovered, boys, drugs, alcohol and a new kind of intensity in their own relationship. We find Owl upside down languishing in the palace – an old abandoned building which serves as the scene of discovery and annihilation. It is in this second half that the performance comes into its own, giving a convincing representation of teenage life in a small town.
It is a beguiling and assured performance, which for the most part deals with the subject matter exceptionally well. Maintaining so much energy with only one performer is quite a remarkable feat and the slightly overwrought moments a side effect of this achievement. Overall it is a sensitive and believable portrayal, which is well worth the price of a ticket.