All explorers are men. Beady men at that. So says Rory, who isn’t a man, even though she has a man’s name. Although Rory is short for Arora, which isn’t much better in her eyes.
We find all this out, plus so much more, within the first few minutes that follow Rory bounding onto the stage, already chatting to an audience that hasn’t even had the chance to settle down into their seats. She’s a bundle of pure energy and excitement as she rushes through her words to explain just how she got to this point in life. This point being 15 years of age and taking her recently deceased dad’s ashes to the North Pole. Except there are five north poles, all of which she knows off by heart because she read it in a book.
A Hundred Words For Snow is all about Rory and her attempt to take her dad, or at least his ashes, to the North Pole because even though he was really a geography teacher, inside he was an old fashioned explorer. One of the beady types and not the modern ones who drink their own piss. It’s also about a young girl’s coming of age. And most wonderful of all it’s about how adults can instill a sense of adventure into children. Because what shines through it all is Rory’s sense of wonder, of discovery, of remembering those things her dad told her and taught her. Rory continuously refers to things her dad showed her or told her; places, books, names, everything. We see this world through the eyes of a young girl just setting foot into the big bad world, and for 75 minutes we get to share that pure excitement with Rory. It’s the excitement of someone who is in love with their topic. We all know people like that, people who can talk non-stop for hours on a topic and make it sound the most amazing thing in the world. That person is Rory tonight.
The show is a rollercoaster of emotions, as Rory flicks from excited teenager to heartbroken daughter of her dead father. Gemma Barnett’s portrayal of Rory is near on perfect. She really is just 15 in the audience’s eyes. Her mannerisms, her words, her excitement, even her attempts to act grown up, whilst the young girl shines through, all these portray her tender age. When she pauses as she thinks of her dad, as she hugs his urn, it’s hard not to want to comfort her, tell her it will turn out fine. But when she is the bundle of energy, excitedly telling us her story, it is damn near impossible not to smile and delight in this youthful view of a world we too often take for granted.
One Hundred Words For Snow is a beautifully balanced show, iin which the writing and acting feel perfect. The simple set and lighting add further, as they give the feel of exploration; the stage may be small, but it never feels like Rory has remained in one place throughout.
Studio 2 is always a great place for transfers from the fringe theatres all around London. And in A Hundred Words For Snow they have plucked out another beauty.
Written by: Tatty Hennessy
Directed by: Lucy Jane Atkinson
Produced by: RJG Productions
Booking link: http://tidd.ly/61450dcc
Playing until: 30 March 2019