Edinburgh Fringe 2010
Poet and performer Molly Naylor was on a London Underground train when it was blown up on 7 July 2005. This solo narrative performance is a part poetic, part story-telling of Molly’s life before and after the experience done with a fresh and uplifting honesty. A moving, uplifting and remarkable show. You will not see anything as original in content Edinburgh this year.
Molly Naylor is a young accomplished poet, scriptwriter and performer. She has written and directed two plays at the Fringe in previous years and has performed at festivals around the world. By a remarkable, almost impossible to believe, turn of events this skilled artist found herself on a tube train in London holding hands with her boyfriend as a terrorist bomb exploded on 7 July 2005.
Hearing the experiences of anyone who endured such an event is morbidly fascinating as we wonder how we would cope in such extremity. Add into that the lyrical, beautiful and lighthearted words of Molly and the cocktail is utterly compelling and inspiring. We know from the title and blurb the event on which the show hinges, so Molly’s fresh, innocent painting of her 18-year-olds escape from Cornwall, a “safe world” to London “somewhere things happen” has us hungry with anticipation.
The show is written with perfect honesty and ease. She avoids hysteria and drama, so much so that her description of 7 July leaves you feeling that being in a terrorist event, which she and her boyfriend survived uninjured it seems, might actually be more manageable that we think. Who knows but her character and humour carry her through the hour underground before they both emerge from the wrecked train, after strangers in her carriage naturally and effortlessly help each other through small touches and words
The staging is simple as Molly stands alone without any variation in lighting or movement and tells her story. Somehow she avoids making 7 July seem catastrophic for her but instead a gently uplifting life event. The title refers to the fact that because she and her boyfriend shared the experience, when she sees him subsequently, she is thrust back on the train in a ways that makes their relationship harder to navigate.
The direction and staging is minimal and perhaps some more attention to the physical movement and lighting would have brought Hackney, Liverpool Street and her return to her family in Wales post 7 July more to life – but the naturalistic style also made the whole experience easier to digest and understand.
This show is original, not only because of the story she tells as a survivor but also because we see clearly what it must feel like trying to do small things like use the toilet in Sainsbury’s on 7 July and then being ticked off by staff for doing so. Likewise she investigates her bomber Shehzad Tanweer and decides he is both cute and virtually same age as her. We are left feeling that even such penetrating and pivotal events as being caught in a terrorist act cannot dent our character or humanity if we have, as Molly clearly has, the strength to rise above and see this as part of a life story.
I wonder if Molly had the opportunity, would she choose to avoid what happened on 7 July or did she gain enough to merit the trauma? If you a poet, everything is content I guess and Molly is a poet and performer with a rich and powerful future.