If Destroyed Still True, Forest Fringe, review


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The Independent Culture

To be a teenager is to be a bag of contradictions. This is well understood by Molly Naylor, who penned and performs this show: part play about a fictional girl whose world is collapsing around her, part chatty meander through Naylor’s own teenage years. She nails how adolescence is a time of deep, heartfelt earnestness, but that because this makes you vulnerable, it’s also a time of burgeoning cynicism, affected indifference.

With the benefit of hindsight this can be very funny, even as Naylor evokes both the touching intensity, and the pain and confusion of it all. The details from her own school years (the smell of “Lambert & Butler and Lynx Africa”; using REM’s ‘Everybody Hurts’ in a drama improvisation about war) are transportingly accurate for this reviewer, at least. Nostalgia – even tragi-comic anti-nostalgia, as IDST often is – is most enjoyable when most recognisable.

But Naylor is also admirably honest in examining her own life today. The show was prompted by an incident last year where she managed to hide from the ‘cool girl’ from her school – in a sauna. Revisiting those years, she begins to realise that the ironic poses she first adopted as armour actually still define her, into her thirties.

Naylor is joined on stage by Iain Ross, a musician who brings a quietly amused scepticism to proceedings. Their guitar playing (hers not picked up since secondary school, his rather more accomplished) provides an apt score, recreating that familiar music-means-so-much-to-me feeling that is never so intense as when you’re young.