Browse reviews

San Francisco Fringe 2015


Gillian Summers

Genre: Solo Performance

Venue: Exit Theatre


Low Down

It’s 1974 in Liverpool and twelve year old Gillian is growing up. Her mother brings home new baby Helen – and Gillian has joy and fear as she may not be the number one child in their large family. Funny and poignant storytelling.


hush is a moving solo performance written and performed by Gillian Summers, based on her childhood growing up in Liverpool in 1974. Summers plays herself between the ages of twelve and fourteen as well as playing other characters in her story. Young Gillian is jealous because her mum just had a baby, which means that she may no longer be the important number one child in their Irish Catholic family of six. Summers glides smoothly between dialogue, narrative and characters by changes in her voice and mood, the words emanate easily. On a small stage with one tall chair and a large white cloth the performance is intimate and she creates her world of small houses, streets and family.

Summers is believable as a child when her mother brings the baby home for the first time. Although in awe of seeing and holding her new baby sister, Helen, she’s not afraid to be true to her twelve year old feelings and be funny, mischievous, slightly jealous and petulant. The well-crafted story is clear and easy to follow, never confusing, even with several characters. In fact the time spent on each detail of every moment is like a play by play of events in her life. For all the sweet moments there are as many conflicts, large and small in this story. Tender and sensitive, there is always an undercurrent running through this typical family. Happiness is when Dad cooks bacon for breakfast for everyone – and a special day at the beach with her mother and sister.

Summers tells this story sincerely and revels in the charming observations of family and people young Gillian encounters as she is growing up. Her facial expressions are very effective and contribute a lot to the performance – she seems to pull her features into many directions for reactions, attitudes and different characters. Funny, thoughtful and real, all at the same time, this well paced show includes several short songs that add to the atmosphere. The performance starts rather low key but is always meaningful, soften funny, and develops with personality, life events and impact. Summers generously shares a part of her life that is important to her and becomes important to everyone watching as it unfolds.