A sturdy wooden climbing frame stands centre stage and sitting on the swing is Laurel, who tells us that she married the first love of her life, whom she met when she was fifteen. We later learn that he was twenty-six, which makes the symbolism of the child’s swing alarming and potentially dramatically shocking. However, this piece is based more on the premise that we apparently tend to define ourselves through ‘others’ rather than ‘I’, from which point it is clear that we are on a journey of self-discovery.
Bagnall tells the story in an engaging way, using the large stage area well by mounting the climbing frame, swinging on the swing, or sitting on the wooden bench by the side.
As Heather Bagnall takes us through Laurel’s life story, we hear how she married too young and went through various ordeals to get out of her marriage, finding her “self” by taking herself out on dates - alone, presumably, although she describes being hit on on one occasion. In numerous flashbacks, we learn about Laurel’s dysfunctional family, including a “flawed but brilliant” alcoholic mother. When she goes to drama school and performs a play about her mother, it seems we are watching yet another play about an actor “finding” themselves. Moreover, we now enter meta-autobiography - a double dose.
It is not clear whether Bagnall is in fact the same Laurel who writes the blog on which this work (is it a play, storytelling, dramatization, or diary-confession?) is based, but we are told that Laurel is “in the middle of an identity crisis” and it’s fair to say that the show suffers the same. Bagnall tells the story in an engaging way, using the large stage area well by mounting the climbing frame, swinging on the swing, or sitting on the wooden bench by the side. The mood varies with atmospheric lighting changes, though occasionally it would be good to have a bit of thinking-time between scene – or mood – changes: there’s always a lot for the audience to take in.
Laurel’s central aim - “a need to reconnect with [her] inner Goddess,” whether through blogging or storytelling - is admirable in its own way and may be appealing to those on a similar quest to recapture lost time. The story swings from amusing anecdotes to platitudes, rather than the rollercoaster of drama and tension that one expects or hopes for from this paradoxically-titled “single married girl.” Nevertheless, it is an entertaining and well-presented piece.