The Vaults, London
Part and parcel of being a teenager is asking questions – about the world at large, about one’s identity, about the nature of love. Amy (Amy Tobias) more than most asks the big questions, and because her father is really into science, she looks to it to help her find answers…
Framing a show around a teenager’s love of learning is certainly novel and during Quantum Physics, we meet Amy between the ages of 13-16. Small plastic experiment bags are given to each member of the audience, containing small items that are relevant to various parts of the show. It makes for an interesting selection: a glow bracelet for clubbing, cards that say ‘Britney’ or ‘Christina’, some Hubba Bubba gum…
Life at school has the usual rites of passage – crushes on classmate and teachers, estrangement from formerly close friends, and bewilderment at trying to make sense of it all.
Interestingly, the adults – male and female – who Amy’s enamoured with share characteristics with her parents, as illustrated in her Venn diagrams, and many view her as an old soul – responsible and mature beyond her years. Of course, this doesn’t stop her from trying to push the envelope rfom time to time, though being mindful isn’t something she can switch off.
Being a show set in the ’90s/00s, music from the era makes an appearance, though, in the case of Sam Sparro’s ‘Black and Gold’, it has more resonance for Amy as its deep meaning reminds her of James.
Continuing on the subject of searching, as someone brought up in the Jewish faith, Amy ponders over her heritage. Having already had her bat mitzvah, a trip to Israel with other teenagers is on the cards for Amy. It is there that she really gets the chance to think over the big questions.
It is, however, an experience of a more awkward nature back in the UK that marks a watershed in her life, realising how adults view her and as a consequence, her peers.
As a show that is autobiographical in nature, Tobias’ performance is delightful. Recalling the minutiae of one’s teens, Tobias taps into the heightened emotions from that period and obliquely shows how growing up is full of doubt and questioning – a perfect attitude to have as a scientist.