I haven't cared so much about a character in a long time.
Lucy is an office assistant in London Bridge, tolerated because she is the only member of staff able to fix a jammed print tray on the photocopier. She is nervous, endearing and has a delicate heart. She begins the piece, for example, hiding in the stationery cupboard from her co-workers, trying to protect the welfare of the potted plant. Whimsical touches, reflecting her personality, are scattered throughout the piece - coloured balloons, pockets of confetti, cut out carnival dancers - all designed to delight us and make us smile. Lucy is so earnestly eager to please, in neat office wear and a soil-smeared face, that we are instantly on her side.
And yet, despite her capacity for love, Garden sees this passionate woman become lost in her desperate loneliness, twenty-four floors above New Cross. Her increasingly frantic desire to find companionship – so acute that she invites a pigeon to live with her and names him Colin – is distressing to watch. As she searches for "a shot of the extraordinary in the ordinary", we realise that it is Lucy herself who is a hidden treasure in South East London.
Lucy Grace, who plays Lucy and wrote the piece, is a sensitive and endearing actor, confident physically and vocally. Her impressions of the other characters Lucy meets are excellent and consistent. The balance between humour and poignancy is well managed, and the piece never becomes too heavy.
I haven't cared so much about a character in a long time. We leave concerned for Lucy's future, as it's difficult to imagine how she will continue with her life after the curtain drops. Garden is a beautiful piece that stays with you.