Molly works at Greggs. She is 33 but yet to find a life partner and society is telling her that her time is running out. Katie Akerman’s new play Molly takes us through the daily life of a wistful employee who by the end of each week trades her docile day-job persona for rather more self-destructive behaviours.
An innovative new solo play that has buckets of potential
As Molly, Akerman’s demeanour is endearing. She performs naturalistically and we feel connected to her from the offset. A little ditsy, Molly comes across as kind, yet slightly naïve. Nevertheless, the audience are warmed by her ever-present contentment despite a certain look in her eyes that suggests something darker lies beneath the happy-go-lucky persona. After a while, once the audience are familiar with Molly’s life at Greggs, there is a significant shift in tone as we witness video recordings of her unhinged antics, including the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol, drugs and desperate texts to ‘Dave’ demanding sex. The video is expertly constructed, causing the audience to feel as if they have a birds-eye view inside Molly’s bathroom. Incredibly raw and realistic, it becomes clear that Molly’s tame demeanour at Greggs masks her darker reality that seeks comfort in addictive, numbing behaviours.
As if nothing had happened, the plot resumes back at Greggs with Molly again, resuming her chirpy persona. This pattern repeats itself a few times, which has strong potential to be very effective; however, the time spent on each transition drags a little, which impedes the momentum of the piece and leaves some dead air on stage. To amend the energy dip, the time between the video footage and live monologue could be introduced. A stronger sense of narrative development could also be achieved with an injection of further plot points or character impersonations in each of the segments.
The story itself, however, is unique and cleverly devised, which is aided especially by Akerman’s dedicated performance that demonstrates some wonderful character work. The upsetting twist in the narrative in the final section of the show presents some hard-hitting themes in a respectful and considered fashion, shedding light on the dangers of isolation and insufficient systems of support. These moments are incredibly powerful, supported by Akerman’s compelling writing. To do justice to this section of the play, I feel that the weighting of the narrative could be shifted slightly to give more space for the catastrophe and resolution to be explored. Perhaps this would aid the aforementioned narrative development, as it would lessen the emphasis on exposition and provide a more in-depth account of the disturbing truth of Molly’s situation. The ending is exceptionally touching, and it deserves more time to breathe on stage.
Molly is an innovative new solo play that has buckets of potential. With some tweaks, the insightful storyline could be all the more powerful and have the significant impact that it is so close to making. Akerman should be highly commended for her authentic and gripping delivery—presenting an extremely polished performance.