FringeReview UK 2017
Glitter Punch is a two character play that is an almost-monologue written by Lucy Burke.
The script is like a poem and Charlotte Salkind who plays Molly brings it to vivid life. This is Salkind’s moment and she captures the audience the instant she walks on stage and takes us into her heart for the hour she is there. It feels like she is talking directly to us as she recounts how she feels and what she is struggling to overcome. Hers are words brought to life: all the inner doubts, the fears, the uncertainties veiled in bravado and a devil-may-care attitude so typical of those agonising teen-aged years we all have endured.
There is a quote that encapsulates the spirit of this play: “I pity youth; they care so much and can do so little.” Molly (Charlotte Salkind) is 16, and keeps a diary she has labeled ”This diary belongs to Molly and do not fucking read it.” The scene opens on her first day at college when she meets 21-year-old John (Hadley Smith). He fascinates her but: “I’m not special,” she says. “”I’m shit with words and my tits are too small”
She is the first one in her family to go to college; she is trying to make sense of her life with a difficult mum, an alcoholic stepfather, and she reasons “I love mum even if she’s a bit of a shit sometimes….but I’m a bit of a shit sometimes…we’re human.”
The next time she sees John she begins to fall in love: ”My heart is doing this thing like its too big for my chest…..I’ve never felt this excitement before. It’s like a feeling that wants something great to happen.”
And so the romance blossoms until he kisses her and she says: “He is kissing me right on the mouth and I was thinking the perfect thing never happens.” She goes on to observe “It’s not about losing your virginity; its more about finding something.” And then “I thought perfection didn’t exist and it does and its real life and its John and me.”
The two go off for a weekend and tragedy strikes. Their car is hit by an oncoming vehicle. Molly survives but John goes into a coma. Molly says, “And I would give anything that it had been me.” But it was not and she says, “All the best people like John and my dad…they fuck off.” She is alone, still in love and because she is 16 and John was 21, she can no longer see him. She says, “There will never be another John.”
There is an understory to Molly’s monologue. Her family is difficult and dysfunctional. Her father left them; her mother had a baby with the new boyfriend and she questions her sense of being displaced by the new baby and asks, ”Is there still a chance you cannot feel empty or jealous…just happy?”
John has been suffering from clinical depression and is on medication since his father dies. And Molly believes “Its me and you against the world.”
This piece is a spot-on recreation of what first love can be, one we think will not happen today with the sophistication and knowledge the internet has given to us all. Molly and John are both the products and the victims of their family situations. Watching this play brought Philip Larken to mind when he says “They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with the faults they had; And add some extra, just for you.”
Glitter Punch is a moving piece of theatre and the impact of the piece belongs to Charlotte Salkind. The direction is excellent, the pace is good. The ending leaves us feeling as empty as Molly feels and perhaps that is the point of it. If we as an audience do not see the barriers society has set up to make happiness so difficult for our children, their lives will never improve and understanding will always escape us. Lucy Burke is to be complimented for her unsparing dissection of the too often tragedy of first love. She has created a play we all should see because it is a reflection of what our society has become.