Edinburgh Fringe 2010
Do You Know Where Your Daughter Is?
Angie Le Mar
Venue: Gilded Balloon
Just by that title, there’s a fair chance that you can guess the story, the plot twists, and even the ending of this production. And maybe you can. But this really is less about the story and more about they who tell it, and the words they use.
The cast are uniformly excellent, and what’s particularly impressive in these youngsters is the honest way they portray teenaged characters who are constantly putting on a front, These actors are able to act ‘acting’ without acting like they’re acting. It’s alright, we’ll wait for you to read that a few times as you work out what we’re trying to get at. It’s difficult enough to find young actors who are able to be natural, much less naturalistic performances of youngsters who spend most of their time hiding behind a mask. These are kids for whom friendship is something to be endured as well as cherished, for whom each chat with their mates is a fragile mine-field.
We don’t really want to pick anyone out for special mention, since there’s not a weak performance in the piece. However, we have to remark on Angie Le Mar’s performance as the lead character’s mother. She is a magnificent woman, proud and powerful, whilst at the same time helpless and afraid for her daughter. It’s significant that, as a strong, fearsome, and good-humoured woman, she almost inevitably (in a subtle and barely mentioned subplot) has yet to find a partner that can match her.
Aaron Fontaine’s Dwayne is a smart creation, both sweet and selfish, and easily believable as an arrogant heart-throb who is still at heart not much more than a little boy, and Sophia Sinclair as Carla impresses as a young woman who goes from perky bubbly charm to desperate despair. This at times is an intensely depressing play, if only because the more horrific elements of the narrative are delivered with a mundane world-weariness: this is how too many of our daughters expect to be treated.
It’s a credit to the production that on this particular performance, the group had to cope with what would have normally been a highly annoying technical fault throughout the entire show, the sort of thing that would normally clear an audience. Not only did no audience member complain about it, they appeared to be so engrossed in the performance that they seemed not to notice. That said, it would be a boon if the production could decided if it was stylised or entirely natural: when some props are mimed, and yet others are not, it jars slightly. However, this is a minor quibble.
The production’s publicity declares that this is to be seen by any young woman. And indeed it is, but the same goes for anyone, of any sex, who’s old enough to have kids of their own. It may in those cases be somewhat terrifying – if you think your daughter hasn’t been in, or had a friend in, similar situations to the ones depicted on this stage, then frankly you’re fooling yourselves – and this is required viewing. We hope the production has a long life. But we also hope, at some point, it simply isn’t needed anymore.