Adelaide Fringe 2016
Unwittingly written over 24 years, #DearDiary is a one-woman existential joyride into forgotten memories. Pulled verbatim from her lifelong diary collection, Andi Snelling’s comically tragic tale unpacks the baggage we all carry. With self-quoting satire, physical storytelling and song, Andi bares her soul and hashtags the heck out of it.
From the moment Andi Snelling clambers deliberately onto the stage, you know she will entertain you until the very end. Dressed like a Raggedy Anne doll and grinning widely at the audience she opens the numerous vintage boxes and suitcases on stage – a treasure trove of memories – until she find the first ever diary she kept at age 9. From there she narrates verbatim a series of entries; dates and brusque hashtags (the modern-day equivalent of expressing emotion) set the scene and guide the audience through Andi’s life.
A number of entries hit rather close to home, particularly those from the teenage years – it seems inevitable and omnipresent that most adolescent girls feel left out, uncool, and younger than their peers. Life and her entries go on as she participates in a high school exchange to France, travels to Berlin and the UK – there was some discrepancy with the dates displayed on screen and anecdotes that Andi read out (were they flashbacks, or was that the era during which the drama occurred?) but this was barely noticeable as the scenes were dramatized and narrations enthralling. The emotional crises, experiences, and philosophical ponderings again are all too familiar as Andi bares her soul to the audience.
Although the beginning and scenes where Andi struggled with writers’ block were somewhat prolonged, it was fascinating to watch the way she twisted and contorted her body. The movements were timed perfectly to the music and even her facial expressions were in tune with the atmosphere she created. She is a phenomenal actor and singer, captivating the audience during the entire performance.
There was a respite halfway through when the performance was transformed into a game show where the host (played by Snelling) read out a question from the audience (before the show members of the audience were asked to write a question that they would like the Diary to answer) and the special guest, Andi’s Diary, answered the question with an excerpt from 1998. It was light entertainment that allowed Snelling to further demonstrate her talent and inject more humour and interaction into the show.
The performance is a mixture of narrative, postmodern theatre, physical drama and a few well-known tunes with amended lyrics that perfectly capture the sentiments of the moment. There is also a good dose of humour thrown in as Snelling charms the audience with her expressions and stories. This show truly captured how a diary can never be replaced when it comes to exploring our emotions, recording our lives, and looking back on the past. A hashtag can never capture the depth and complexity of life. Andi’s story and performance has inspired me to pick up a pen, turn over a fresh page in my brand new diary, and pick up where I left off.