The desire to please is instilled into children from an early age, but the side-effects that this can have on their development is often not felt until it’s too late.
Sheldon’s performance is fizzing with a carefully channeled energy throughout: as a piece of comically poignant storytelling
Poised on a podium in the centre of the stage, Naomi Sheldon is the doll-like epitome of a “good girl”, with immaculate delivery and a wide-eyed innocence that belies much saucier material yet to come. We jump in, quite literally, at the deep end - it’s the school swimming competition of 1995 and puberty is on the horizon for Sheldon’s persona known as GG. Through one memory after another, riddled with touching detail, the vein of emotion pulsing under this narrative begins to emerge as GG is simultaneously overcome with how to express her feelings and determined to suppress them at every turn. It’s a painfully relatable tale, and exceptionally well-placed metaphor expresses the concept perfectly.
Speaking as if to a diary, Sheldon never so much as bats an eyelid at the fact that she is disclosing intimate secrets with a room full of strangers - which of course makes them all the more voyeuristically compelling. Expressive mime and popular references paint a vivid picture of her adolescent world, complete with embarrassingly relatable details and a posse of girlfriends as distinctive as if they were gathered onstage. Pop references from the 80s and 90s litter the script and earn appreciative chuckles from the crowd, whilst the scene-change soundtrack of ABBA’s greatest hits is worth noting for its relevance as the show goes on.
I could have watched Sheldon recreate teenage sleepovers and tense arguments between herself all day, but this is a smaller, more light-hearted part of the story. Things take a turn for the darker, and the laughs that prevailed at the beginning of the production are noticeably fewer and further between. By the end of the hour, Sheldon has the room hanging on her every word - you get the feeling that, be it a nearly-empty room or Wembley Stadium, the effect would be the same.
This is a joyful celebration of the intensity and unpredictability of life. Sheldon’s performance is fizzing with a carefully channeled energy throughout: as a piece of comically poignant storytelling, it is a delight to watch.