It’s been a year since Twenties, the younger self of Almost Adult, played online. Since then, it’s not just the name that has changed: they’ve been busy rewriting and reimaging almost every scene. And much like its central character, Hope, Almost Adult has grown up into something even more charming and enchanting.
Writer and performer Charlotte Anne-Tilley’s Hope is, as the title suggests, old enough to leave the safety of her Macclesfield home and move to the glitz and glamour that she believes London will be; “I’ve seen Notting Hill, I know what goes on down there” she muses. But at the same time, she is not quite old enough to be able to see beyond the teenage fantasies and dreams she believes will come true for her in the big smoke.
Even after a few setbacks, such as having to downgrade her dream of living in Kensington, settling instead for the more affordable Finsbury Park, Hope remains optimistic. Afterall, she is the first generation of her family to leave Macclesfield, proving just how brave she is. A new job at a Dino bar soon reinforces her belief that London is the place to be, but it is also where things begin to go very wrong for her in the form of Daz, her creepy and overly hands-on boss.
There are two important requirements for a successful one-person show; a character with enough depth to hold your attention, and an actor capable of holding it all together. Anne-Tilley comfortably delivers both. A few minor slip-ups aside (this was opening night after all), she felt completely immersed in the main role, whilst at the same time finding no difficulty in switching between all the supporting characters and accents; from family and work colleagues to a host of encounters she meets on her journey of discovery.
Hope is a wonderful character; her initial naivety is endearing, never overdone to the point of annoyance. Rather she shows us her true self in her excitement at being in London. From the musical interludes between scenes as she dances alone (her entrance scene is surely an event any teen has played out in her bedroom), to the pure joy of using an Oyster card for the first time (selfie obviously taken), you just want to cheer for her to succeed, for her never to lose that optimism and joy in the little pleasures that life can throw our way.
With a longer run time than its earlier counterpart, the play can delve deeper into its themes of sexual harassment and the realities of being a young female in a world where cat-calling is still considered simply ‘harmless lad-culture fun’. With this additional time, Hope’s belief that truth and honesty will always win is thoroughly tested and shown to be a lie. Instead, she learns that in the real world sometimes the bad guy (or woman) prospers. “I thought things had got better, what with the #MeToo movement” is perhaps the most telling line young Hope utters.
And whilst the show is almost unrecognisable from Twenties, one thing thankfully still present is the Dino costume, in fact a rather more professional looking one this time around that is put to amazingly good use. The sexy Dino dance we witness really is something to behold, Anne-Tilley somehow making it a strange mash-up of sex kitten and young girl playing dress up, whilst also being charming and amusing.
It’s an absolute delight to see how Almost Adult has grown up into a show that can keep an audience enchanted for 70 minutes. The fullness and reality of its script is wonderfully brought to life by Anne-Tilley and makes you smile come the end, as we’re left with a positive note that, just maybe, sometimes, London can be a nice place after all.
Written by: Charlotte Anne-Tilley
DIrected by: Beth Wilson
Almost Adult plays at The Space until 15 January. The play will also be available on-demand until 29 January. Further information and booking via the below link.