Greenside @ Infirmary Street (Mint Studio)
Cheryl (Kait Warner) wants to help others. For this reason, her carnival kissing booth has gradually built a reputation for a place where people can find a friendly ear. Appearing immediately as a positive girl, she addresses us directly in the opening scene, inviting us to share our biggest worries. “Work” says one, “wife” echoes another, “depression” adds a third, definitively bursting what initially felt like a joyful fairground vignette.
This interaction with the audience is suddenly interrupted by the voice of a new customer – or should that be patient? Sounding quite desperate, he’s sceptical of her ability to help, blaming the loss of his guitar for the world of grief that is pushing him to make all the wrong choices. Describing herself as “the girl who can listen” and desperate to relieve his pain, Cheryl is willing to take that grief upon her shoulders. It doesn’t take us long to work out that this urge might be fuelled by the loss of all the important figures in her life – her fondly remembered maternal lineage, as well as a boyfriend who was once also a customer.
Before we get to fully discover how genuine her positive thinking is, some deep matters plunge the room in darkness, tarnishing her sunlit demeanour. There follows a series of muddled events; a lot happens on stage, yet they hardly evolve the plot. This means when the happy ending finally arrives, we’re still trying to process what has occurred in the previous fifteen minutes.
To sustain the production, despite the limitations imposed by the venue’s tight turnarounds, Jaqueline Brockel’s set is well curated. Handpicked pieces, randomly put together, make the booth look like a readymade dada, whilst a neon tube hanging from one of its corners matches some of the pink and blue hues chosen to light up the stage. Rosalie Neal also stands out with a sound design that is complex yet subtle, and always queued with careful precision.
Like Cheryl herself, this play is motivated by noble intentions, but it falters when it is called upon to turn them into action. Let down by half-baked lines and roughly outlined exchanges, Cheryl’s mission loses touch with reality.
Written by: Kait Warner
Directed by: Danica Jensen
Produced by: Danica Jensen & Kait Warner in association with Telepathetic Entertainment
Take it Away, Cheryl plays at Greenside @ Infirmary Street until 13 August at 5:20pm. Further information and bookings here.