The Space’s policy last year of running in-theatre shows in organised combination with livestreams followed by on-demand programming earned the venue a slot in my 21 for 2021 round up of the year. It is a policy that they appear to be taking forward into 2022, starting with the show Almost Adult. It’s a production that has been around for a while now in various iterations; it began life during lockdown as a multi-actor Zoom performed piece called Twenties and since has evolved into a full length monologue play. While I’m not sure whether yesterday’s livestream is the ultimate final product, it seems to be pretty polished and there are plans to take it to this year’s Edinburgh Festival.
Hope, the protagonist of the story, is aptly named. She lives in provincial Macclesfield but longs for the bright lights of London where she expects to find success and experience her long awaited “sexual awakening”; after all she’s seen Notting Hill and knows what goes on. It sounds like the sort of scenario that might have been found in books and films of the 1960s except in this case there’s a healthy dose of reality which creeps up on her and brings the narrative slap bang up to date. Rather than the pad in swinging Kensington, Hope finds herself sharing a flat in slightly more down market Finsbury Park although her flat mate Jenna seems like a good, level headed sort of person. On the relationship front, Tinder helps her to find Cosmo – “he’s an actor, so he must be emotionally intelligent”. And there, in a neat nutshell, is Hope’s naivety encapsulated. Their relationship is blatantly one sided and one way and results in massive disappointment for the young woman who realises she shouldn’t have given in quite so readily to his blandishments.
Nor is the work front a much better prospect. In order to make ends meet Hope takes a job in the dinosaur themed bar chain Dinoworld – cue a daft onesie costume – but unfortunately finds herself relegated to toilet monitoring or on taxi duty standing outside in the cold. This is largely because she won’t play ball with resident sex pest Daz who obviously regards groping the women he works with as one of the perks of the job. Everything goes pear shaped when Hope raises a complaint on behalf of herself and her fellow worker and finds herself in front of a manager who doesn’t really sympathise with her position. While certainly not absolving men from blame, the script is particularly good at demonstrating how women can become complicit in allowing such behaviour to flourish.
Charlotte Anne-Tilley is both writer and performer, playing not only Hope but the other characters in the story too. She subtly and adeptly handles these quick transformations with swift changes in body language and stance and by making good use of different inflections in her voice. Starting out as a bubbly and lively young woman seeking to strike out on her own, Anne-Tilley skilfully draws us in with the character’s infectious personality and moments of comedy coupled with some strenuous inter-scene dance moves. This makes us all the more ready to accompany Hope down the trail of dawning reality and towards a sense of disillusion which is, unfortunately, all too common. Ultimately it is a sad story which unfolds though there is a sense of hope (with a small “h”) which suggests that Hope (with a big “H”) will go forward as a much wiser and more complete person.
The production directed by Beth Wilson, is simply staged with a minimum of visual distraction and various locations (e.g., a tube train) economically delineated. There are some decent enough lighting changes which help to enhance the mood. Anne- Tilley changes costume several times with the dinosaur onesie suggesting not only the rather demeaning nature of the work she is employed in but also the essentially immature nature of the woman in waiting. It’s (unfortunately) a fable for our times; it should continue to do well going forward and is a good start to The Space’s new year.