Mikey and Addie

Mikey and Addie is a story about two pre-teen kids who couldn't be more different – Mikey’s life is all about imagination and play, while Addie’s is focused on enforcing rules and regulations with a determination to be “the best playground monitor... ever!” Yet the first surprise is how Robert Alan Evans’ script – brilliantly performed here, solo, by Andy Manley (who initially comes across as some enthusiastic curator intent on creating a narrative from “small bits and connections”) – sets the scene within the significantly wider perspective of the solar system, before coming back down to Earth and Mikey and Addie's very different morning routines.

A show that’s perceptively written, brilliantly performed, and definitely an hour well-spent – however grown up you might think you are.

The storytelling here is supported by a series of objects displayed on plain black stands, each slowly revolving like object d'art in ultra-chic art gallery: a glass bowl, initially full of crumpled tinfoil, that momentarily represents the Earth; metal flowers sprouting out of a metal pot; a NASA mug and a large spoon, the latter taking on the role of an astronaut out by Jupiter; a simple tinfoil plate; an oven glove. Under Andy Cannon's skilful direction, Shona Reppe's deceptively simple design remains sufficiently abstract to not distract our own imaginations as Manley creates a world for us along with its clearly delineated inhabitants.

Categorised as being for age 9+, this show admittedly requires a reasonable attention span, plus a willingness to take on a bittersweet coming of age story. This loss of childhood innocence – the realisation that his mother had been lying to him for years – is purposely balanced by Addie's own journey towards being slightly less fixated on rules, and more open to the wonders of the world around her. This may not be the greatest dramatic journey in the history of theatre, but Manley's commitment to its telling ensures we really care.

In some respects, this is down to the small, oh-so-human details in Evans’s script: Mikey’s mum keeping the important memorabilia of her life, including his birth certificate, in an old Quality Street tin; Addie loving underlining things, and being easily distracted display cases of dictaphones; that Mikey, on the day he bunks off school to get the bus to Glasgow, checks himself in the mirror before leaving and “tries to look older”.

Immeasurably aided by a perfectly timed soundscape created by Danny Krass and the effective use of lighting (originally designed by Fred Pommerehn), Manley's performance is full of physical nuance and genuine childlike intensity. The result is a show that’s perceptively written, brilliantly performed, and definitely an hour well-spent – however grown up you might think you are.

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Mikey is a sunny boy. He lives alone with his mum. Mikey's mum has a secret. It’s not well kept. Everyone knows it. Everyone except Mikey. Addie is a good girl. She doesn't tell lies. Her father makes sure of that. Addie tells the truth. It's what you have to do. Isn't it? It's hard to tell when your life will change. The day you wake up normal but end up falling far from everything you've ever known. Spinning into nothingness. Today is that day. For ages 9+. **** (Guardian). www.madeinscotlandshowcase.com

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