FOX & HOUND THEATRE
The pieces of the puzzle that make up Laura’s brain don’t seem to fit, When the world doesn’t make sense to her, she is labelled problematic. The relationships that Laura has with her mother, teacher and self, highlight that we cannot always see what is in front of us, whether barriers are circumstance or subconscious.
It takes just a moment to change everything and begin a new way of thinking.
I don’t recall a play that got me so wound up as this one.
Twelve-year-old Laura has yet to be diagnosed but she shows some familiar traits. She avoids eye contact, does not like being around noise, likes to watch and dance in repeat, is distracted by picturesque maths questions (I feel your pain, Laura) and has a “comfort blanket” – a toy Dorothy Gale doll named – who acts as a key to Laura’s wild imagination and thoughts of her situation. She is a child with a working, angst-ridden mother and is in a school with a teacher aggressively “preparing” her for high school while dealing with thirty other children who Laura claims all avoid or dislike her.
The confusion and misplaced blame on Laura’s “behaviour problems” was triggering for me as a person with autism who before and after diagnosis still struggled with impatience from loved ones and friends. Laura’s meltdown was also eerily and painful to watch.
What rather spoiled the experience was the moving of the set and slow pacing of the scene changes. It took away from the audience the emotional connection to the characters and the story. Each scene change and set move was rather awkward to watch and perhaps the show could have been better without some sets, better placement or better direction.
I went to the show with Edinburgh playwright James Ley (you can catch his show Love Song to Lavender Menace at The Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh in October) and we both got to chat with actors. The performers showed great knowledge and interest in autism and were interested in my opinions of the show. It was clear to me that this was an important show that they wanted to get right and I appreciated their dedication.
For some, this show is perhaps an educational experience on how a child may see the world differently and how actions, or more accurately in this play, inaction, causes unnecessary stress and anxiety for all. For me, it triggered memories and reminded me of the hopelessness I personally felt as a child while my “problems” were discussed and debated.
Autistic people do grow up, but our fears and feelings of failure stay with us.
Reviewed by Emma McCafferty
Written by Jill Franklin
Performed by Fox and Hound Theatre
Until Aug 24