theSpace @ Surgeons Hall (Theatre 3)
Six-year-old Mae (Mabel Thomas) has a random fascination for the word ‘ambiguous’. She likes the sound of it and repeats it to herself over and over again – although, to be perfectly honest, she hasn’t quite learned its meaning yet.
Her accounts of how she goes from challenging her schoolmate on the playground, aged six, to driving a car at full speed at eighteen and a half all starts on an ambiguous Tuesday. She’s the school hopping champion and she’s about to start a race against little Grant when he suddenly gives her a kiss on the lips. This unrequested advance not only distracts her from the competition, but also gets her disqualified. Determined to get pay back, she conceives a plan that causes more hassle than it’s worth.
At eleven years of age, Mae learns how crucial money is to receive validation from her peers. Hence, she embarks on her first entrepreneurial venture, only to see her earnings confiscated by the school for using some of their property. Once again, she feels hard done by the circumstances.
Fast-forward to being sixteen, the time comes to explore sexuality and again, things don’t quite go as planned. At eighteen, it only gets more complicated when she deems becoming a sugar baby the easiest way to make a quick buck. Eventually deprived of her dignity, for the first time she realises that the “master liar and manipulator” she thought of herself won’t always have the upper hand.
The final realisation of what ambiguous really means hits her as hard as it hits us. The indefinite lingering between right and wrong, the grey area between agreeing to something or having her consent coerced. Up until the end, however, she’s too proud to fully admit that she’s been a victim, too resolute to accept that she has made many poor choices.
The plot unfolds rapidly before our eyes, the set is static, with light and sound kept to a minimum. Our attention is focused entirely on Thomas’s charismatic delivery. We leave the auditorium questioning whether her opportunistic attitude has left her exposed to abuse, but we promptly remind ourselves that this should never be the case.
Written by: Mabel Thomas
Directed by: Alum Sandy Thomas
Produced by: Mabel Thomas
Sugar plays at theSpace @ Surgeons Hall until 27 August at 7.05pm. Further information and bookings can be found here.