It's been a strong festival for one-woman shows and this less talked-about piece by PenKnife Productions certainly makes the cut. Whilst strictly a two-hander, actor Adam Pelta-Pauls provides only very brief support to Lauren Farrell's captivating central performance as the lost, privileged Bernadette. For just over an hour, Farrell totally charms with Bernadette's cynical, precocious outlook on life and packs a powerful punch in this wittily painful coming of age drama.
We meet sixteen-year-old Bernadette on a train bound for New York. She's ditched class and is speeding away from her New Haven boarding school to tell her boyfriend she's pregnant with his child. Michael is older, a body-building but intellectual type who smokes and reads Edward Bond. When Bernadette shows up, he's nowhere to be found. What follows is an aimless night of self-discovery and destruction in the city during which Bernadette leaves behind whatever was left of her childhood.
For the most part, it's a dramatic monologue. The script, by Pulitzer Prize finalist Adam Rapp, is sharply observed, compellingly unsentimental and gives real insight into the experience of the cusp of adulthood. The characters in Bernadette's story are conjured vividly, often with humorous brevity: 'A good ass will add years to your marriage', is the advice from her mother, a pill- popping housewife addicted to the shopping channel and convinced her husband is having an affair. This lack of dependence on character-shifting (Farrell rarely steps outside of Bernadette for long) really justifies the monodrama form and Farrell's performance is more than enough to hold her audience's attention for the duration.
'I want to write short stories,' Bernadette tells us near the end, which is essentially what she's just done: The Edge of Our Bodies, most of which is read out from a diary, is a skilfully crafted, measuredly dramatised bildungsroman. It's only a shame the production was as fleeting as Bernadette's weekend; with a longer run this could have built momentum and turned out a real Fringe favourite.