A show that’s perceptively written, brilliantly performed, and definitely an hour well-spent – however grown up you might think you are.
The storytelling here is supported by a series of objects displayed on plain black stands, each slowly revolving like object d'art in ultra-chic art gallery: a glass bowl, initially full of crumpled tinfoil, that momentarily represents the Earth; metal flowers sprouting out of a metal pot; a NASA mug and a large spoon, the latter taking on the role of an astronaut out by Jupiter; a simple tinfoil plate; an oven glove. Under Andy Cannon's skilful direction, Shona Reppe's deceptively simple design remains sufficiently abstract to not distract our own imaginations as Manley creates a world for us along with its clearly delineated inhabitants.
Categorised as being for age 9+, this show admittedly requires a reasonable attention span, plus a willingness to take on a bittersweet coming of age story. This loss of childhood innocence – the realisation that his mother had been lying to him for years – is purposely balanced by Addie's own journey towards being slightly less fixated on rules, and more open to the wonders of the world around her. This may not be the greatest dramatic journey in the history of theatre, but Manley's commitment to its telling ensures we really care.
In some respects, this is down to the small, oh-so-human details in Evans’s script: Mikey’s mum keeping the important memorabilia of her life, including his birth certificate, in an old Quality Street tin; Addie loving underlining things, and being easily distracted display cases of dictaphones; that Mikey, on the day he bunks off school to get the bus to Glasgow, checks himself in the mirror before leaving and “tries to look older”.
Immeasurably aided by a perfectly timed soundscape created by Danny Krass and the effective use of lighting (originally designed by Fred Pommerehn), Manley's performance is full of physical nuance and genuine childlike intensity. The result is a show that’s perceptively written, brilliantly performed, and definitely an hour well-spent – however grown up you might think you are.