Saturday, 25 October 2014
Spine @ The Soho Theatre
On the surface, Spine is a hilarious little monologue. Performed by Rosie Wyatt, this is the story of a proper Laaandaaan girl - the crude and aggressive Amy. She falls out with friends, sleeps with men she probably shouldn't, and has a particularly rocky relationship with her mother. Wyatt's vivid characterisation - both vocally and physically - is hugely entertaining, delivering Clara Brennan's often vulgar script at amusingly high velocity. It's a portrayal that carefully balances realism and fiction.
Yet there's more to Amy than meets the eye. She soon befriends an elderly widow and the two women strike up an unlikely friendship over stolen library books, with more in common than expected. An activist in her younger days, Mrs Glenda is keen to pass on the baton of political power, proving herself to be far more than just a helpless old woman. Spine thus becomes a story of inter-generational feminist power; of a misunderstood young girl learning to reach her potential.
It's the sort of thematic richness you'd expect from a longer play, but this one-act monologue is concise and layered, providing plenty of thought-provoking talking points. Some of the finer details may get lost amongst the characterisation and the plot feels a touch conceited at times, but the pacing is well thought out and the narrative style is intense and gripping.
It's Wyatt's tour-de-force performance that truly impresses - a feat of both memory and acting skill. Playing both women distinctly, her delivery is brash, comic and surprisingly touching. This is simply brilliant and engaging storytelling.
Watch: Spine runs at the Soho Theatre until 2nd November.