Over the past year or so The Space has continued to support and nurture new writing, providing a platform for their work to remain visible. Doing so during the various lockdowns has often meant keeping things simple; one act monologues with low key sets. Not that this has meant lower standards, but it did make Look Who’s All Grown Up, with its cast of five and an opening set design that probably looked much more expensive that in reality it was (much praise to designer Constance Villemot), quite a pleasant surprise.
But a bigger cast and wonderful set doesn’t automatically mean good. For that we also need strong acting, a well written script, plus some well thought out directing to bring it all to life. That, thankfully, is very much what we were treated to over this near two-hour performance.
Look Who’s All Grown Up sees Felix (Daniel Bravo) and Caitlin (Kalifa Taylor) meet at a weekend charity event. Except for both being child film stars now entering young adulthood, they could not be more different. Felix is American, Caitlin British. He is brash, arrogant, cynical about everything and everyone (there’s maybe a little stereotyping of American stars here, but they just about get away with it), and concerned that any sign of friendship is just people wanting a photo-op with him. She is polite, nervous, almost starstruck, even though she is just as famous. Then there are their film roles: Felix does big budget action and sci-fi franchises, whilst Caitlin is more sophisticated. This is something she wishes she could change, wanting nothing more than to star in a comic book movie, although as her mother (Shereener Browne) points out, “films with sequels don’t win awards.” But differences apart, they click from their first meeting in the secluded garden they both escape to for their own reasons.
Over the course of the weekend, they reveal their dreams, their fears, the things they have witnessed whilst filming. If there is one complaint to be made, it is that numerous hot topics are raised but never fully formed: mental health, sexuality, sexualisation of young women, the abuse within the industry. Yes, they do provide depth, showing vulnerabilities and concerns: it just feels that some topics are raised for the sole reason they are subjects that have been very newsworthy in the past year or so. Central to it all, though, is that issue of sexual abuse, with strong references made to Harvey Weinstein-like characters, as both reveal witnessing such behaviour but feeling unable to speak out about it at risk of their careers. It is this topic that looms large come the second half of the play when they bump into each other one year on and make confessions that leave the other reeling.
The supporting cast helps provide the backdrop to these later confessions. Stephanie Pezolano delivers a strong performance as the slightly too friendly producer they all look up to, admiring how a woman can survive with dignity in the cesspit of Hollywood. Joshua Lendon’s fleeting appearance may at first seem almost irrelevant, however he really comes back with a bang later on.
Realising that this is writer’s Abigail Chandler’s first full-length play, or that it is Daniel Bravo’s professional debut just makes you appreciate this production that little bit more. It is a well rounded and fully formed performance that really is a credit to the work that The Space do.
Written by: Abigail Chandler
Directed by: Ella Murdoch
Produced by: Adam Hemming and Matthew Jameson for Space Productions
Look Who’s All Grown Up is playing until 19 June. It will then be available to view online until 3 July. Full details available via the below link.