Touring – reviewed at King’s Head Theatre, London
Opening with filmed footage from childhood, Molly (Emma Bentley) looks back fondly at a time when she didn’t have a care in the world. Of course, part of being an adult means facing up to tough choices, responsibilities, standing on your own two feet. For some, however, these changes aren’t gradual, but happen abruptly.
It’s revealed that Molly’s musical father who appears in the footage wasn’t on the scene in her teens. Her mother is very different in temperament and encourages her to go on holiday with the girls from school. University isn’t a priority for her either, encouraging Molly to start working after finishing school.
Whatever future plans Molly might have had for her life, they’re put to one side when her mother is hospitalised and later dies from renal failure. With no real support system to speak of, Molly understandably succumbs to depression and before she knows it, finds herself homeless.
Told from Molly’s perspective, her tale is told matter-of-factly without sentiment. Out on the streets, casual acquaintances from school become lifelines, though these are often short-lived.
Before long, life becomes a matter of meeting her hierarchy of needs – food, shelter and warmth. The use of Tinder to ‘facilitate’ this one evening provides a momentary respite, but the realisation that this is what one has been reduced to provides an unnerving epiphany – the distance from an upstairs window is nothing compared to the gaping abyss of her future…
Because of the calm, gradual nature of the play, the narrative doesn’t ring false and we totally believe in the possibility of these events. The play subtly highlights how intelligence and former economic status have no bearing on the susceptibility of homelessness. It is a lottery, just like the health of Molly’s mother.
The use of a takeaway meal box and a micro camera to create a doll’s house to look objectively at Molly’s life and living situation is an inspired touch. An amalgam of the meta- and the mundane, Molly realises how undervalued, yet intransient her life is now.
One leaves the play thinking: “There but for the grace of God go I.”