The Vaults, London
This a new production from RG Productions of Tatty Hennessy’s play, which featured as part of the Heretic Voices in January 2018 along with Sonya Hale’s Dean McBride, starring Ted Reilly and Friend of the Cheap Seat Annie Fox’s A Woman Caught Unaware with Amanda Boxer.
This revival at The Vaults sees a new director and performer replace the Arcola run’s Max Gill and Lauren Samuels. Gemma Barnett is Rory, a teenage girl who suffering the general shame of being a teenager, with the name Aurora and whose dad is a geography teacher at her school, has to deal with his sudden bereavement which puts pressure on a strained relationship with her mother.
Furious at her mother’s decision to cremate him, Rory decides to take his ashes to the North Pole, following the revelation he has planned a trip there for the two of them. It is a study into the depths of grief presented in a funny and warm way, despite the cold setting. Rory encounters the ice, boys and ultimately her own realisation why she is doing this; her love for her father as well as her stages of grief. She isn’t only unprepared for the Arctic weather, she is unprepared for how her life will continue without him.
Hennessy is a strong writer, it would be difficult to ruin her work. In Lucy Jane Atkinson’s vision it is a lot more scaled back than at the Arcola and I found this to be a positive. It managed to convey the isolation a lot better. Barnett gives a solid performance as a teenager doing her best for her dad amongst her anger and confusion at the world. It is a realistic portrayal of the invincibility teenagers have whilst fighting their own insecurities. Rory losing her virginity is particularly portrayed movingly. The whole production is moving without being hysterical.