Kelly Jones’ self-penned piece makes use of a simplistic style of storytelling to make the intensely personal universal. Jones cleverly avoids the common trap of autobiographical performance, that of self-indulgence, to create this wonderfully active story as seen through her own eyes. By telling her audience what she sees and hears, she serves us with the external world around her, leaving us to work out for ourselves what complexities that lay within.
The subject matter explores the everyday world of grief as Jones recounts her re-emergence into the world of work and ‘functional’ life three weeks after she loses her beloved Nan. Against a backdrop of a busy Asda supermarket soundscape, Jones describes, with brilliant wit, her encounters with awkward sympathizers and gossipmongers familiar to anyone that has lost a close loved one (that’s most of us, right!?).
Director Anna Poole (the busiest director in Cardiff right now), has retained a beautiful simplicity in staging that lets Jones’ colourful script breathe and do the work it needs to do. This is aided by a minimal composition of set, which tells a story in itself. The soundscape (Chris Young) is a wonderful and, at times hilarious, support to the narrative, albeit sometimes distracting us from the text (a volume issue).
One of the challenges of a solo performance can be having to keep the ball up on your own. In this case Jones’ energy did seem quite low throughout, however, was compensated by such an active script. This issue could be aided quite simply with a vocal workshop or two. This does not, however, detract from the wonderful achievement of the piece as a whole.
Expect to be taken on a bit of emotionally rollercoaster with a lot of laughs in between.
The Drowned Girl written and performed by Kelly Jones
Directed by Anna Poole
Chapter Arts Centre until October 3