Fiona has just arrived at university. She’s studying French. She’d rather study music but her mum doesn’t think it’ll lead anywhere. Fiona suffers from anxiety. Uncomfortable with the vigorous alcohol-fuelled socialising of her flatmates, she hides in her room with her guitar. Until one day, it all gets too much and she takes a train to a sleepy seaside town without looking back.
Opportunistic flatmates May and Adam launch a campaign on social media, #Find Fiona. The traditional media crawl all over it, and May and Adam start to enjoy their five minutes in the sun. This is a smart script about feeling like you don’t fit in, struggling to cope and the flimsy nature of fame.
Insightful, ascerbic and occasionally poetic, Elizabeth Godber’s new play is a timely social commentary. Interwoven with original songs written and performed by actor/composer Grace Christiansen, the production is a neatly formed window into an 18-year-old’s world. From the initial excitement of escaping home for three years (it’s an English theatre company!) to the world-weary reality of reading week and exam pressure, this is a flashback for the older audience members to the world unfolding in front of you; the optimism of youth and the debilitating despair that comes with feeling that you don’t fit in.
Fiona is portrayed with compassion by Christiansen, who wrestles visibly with the wish to be more like her extrovert flatmates but is righteous in her final confrontation with their opportunistic exploitation. Joe Hall as Adam and Martha Godber as May are just the right side of objectionable. This is a strong cast who navigate a compact stage, a beautifully executed set and some complicated musical arrangements with aplomb. Writer Godber also directs and she’s done a lovely job.
A longer script could have done more to explore the nuances of the relationship between Fiona and her flatmates – the story skips through its 45 minutes effortlessly – but it would have been interesting to unpick May and Adam’s feelings to find out whether they were ever altruistic before they got carried away or if they were only ever motivated by self. But the helter-skelter consequences of their early actions is wittily depicted – Madam is a masterstroke – and paints a damning picture of the values of young people today.
This is a sensitive and thoughtful depiction of the trouble with being young; here’s looking forward to seeing what they do next.