Taylor Dyson of Elfie Picket and Assembly is at the Fringe this year performing a coming-of-age solo show. Tay is back from Glasgow University to her home town of Dundee. She is going to spend the summer seeing her friends, catching up on the last six months of chat, or that is the plan. Instead, she finds herself examining her relationships with her family, the friends she left behind, and her town.
A number of themes arise. Tay is faced with ‘reverse culture shock’ as she remembers things differently. The town that she called home for most of her life seems unfamiliar to her. Her life in Glasgow, getting a Literature degree, is seen as pointless by those she meets here – in the town of ‘drunks, junkies and gangs’. She doesn’t understand her hippie mother, and her teenage sister does not understand her. Tay’s friends throw her a ‘welcome home’ party, but she finds herself alienated there too. This is a classic bildungsroman, exploring Tay’s relationship with her erstwhile best friend, Katie. As the girls grapple with Tay’s return, confidences must be shared and feelings examined. As a young person with ambitions of becoming a poet, she also struggles with the path to get there.
Dyson is as good a singer as she is an actor. Her monologue is peppered with songs, and with great live guitar, sets the perfect scene. But because of the heavy usage of Scots, the production does limit itself to a largely local audience. It would be quite difficult for someone with no connections with Scotland to understand. And although the theme is universal, the plot is predictable.
However, as a solo show, this is a brave attempt at a relatable concept. Those who grew up in Scotland’s smaller towns, more deprived areas and moved to cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow will identify with Tay. The simple innocence of a life left behind is contrasted sharply against the pains of adulthood and the pangs of facing up to failure.