Browse reviews

Brighton Fringe 2023

My First Time Was in a Car Park


Genre: Drama, Fringe Theatre, One Person Show, Solo Play, Storytelling, Theatre

Venue: Laughing Horse @ The Quadrant


Low Down

An explosive mixture of top-notch storytelling and powerful material, preceded by three more lyrical pieces all underpinned by the power of the sea, both healing and destructive, but personal stories for the most part.  The story of what happened in a school carpark and its long-lived effect straddles the borderline between an unredemptive tale of abuse and a redemptive tale of survival. There are a fair number of shows and plays and books dealing with childhood abuse and its after effects, but this one hander delivers a rich mix of insight into how life goes on, albeit with this shadow always present.


Mira, the central character has lost her virginity at fifteen in the school carpark to a teacher –  we kind of know this from the adverts for the play, but the telling about actual event is split across the performance and very effectively so. You don’t drown in  the trauma but you get a stronger sense of how powerfully it has, and still does effect, the protagonists life. As Mira tells the story of her growing up, of her relationship to the sea, her mother, the TV, tomatoes she returns to this central event, it’s all intertwined. The joys and the darkness are inseparable, whether it’s the fact that her mother didn’t, or couldn’t, protect her is something she struggles with.

The telling is witty and lively, ducking in and out of rites of passage – a  first time on ecstasy where she rings her mother to say she loves her – at 4am in the morning.

The play continues with the stormy and confusing times of drugs, dancing and sex, sometimes it’s fantastic other times, well, not so good. Mira leads us through her story convincingly, sometimes with surreal episodes, other times with quiet observational comedy.  It’s all mixed up, but seamlessly so in terms of the performance.

The three  shorter pieces based on the theme of Bodies By The Sea frame the longer performance well, almost softening the audience up for the more traumatic story of Mira’s abuse and its repercussions. The first is a gently humorous self confessional monologue of a young woman seeking to direct her life with meditation and swimming in the sea. It had a lovely rhythm to it, and was in contrast to the more fairy tale story of the seal girl who’s joyful sea swimming is rejected by a repressive town and family with sinister consequences. The third was more difficult to grasp,  a more overtly angry piece about celebrations by and of the sea set against the bodies of refugees fleeing and drowning in boast. The continuing theme of the sea, angry god, taker of life, healing and life giving runs well into the main performance.

Phoebe Wood’s writing and direction  and Molly-Rose Treve’s performance in the main play are both powerful and entertaining, upsetting and joyful by turns – it’s a bit of a rollercoaster and  worth the ride.  Is there a resolution – how do you bring this to end? At the finish Mira  finds some quietness, but it will always be that Her First Time was in a Car Park. It’s a rare performance,  that doesn’t sugar-coat the darkness of the defining event but gives us a rounded and in the end hopeful coming of age drama.


Show Website

Unzipped Theatre