At first glance, Tilly is a typical train wreck. She works a soul-sucking job, has no love life, and spends her weekends eating chocolate in her pyjamas à la Bridget Jones. But Tilly lives in perpetual denial of a painful truth lurking on her horizon and, sooner rather than later, that wall of water crashes upon her shore.
Tilly (Sylvia Marie Keays) has a handful of constants in her life: her nagging sister Sarah, her dickhead boss Simon, and a memory of a family holiday at the beach that she returns to as a reminder of innocence on the edge of the powerful force of the ocean. Paul Gilchrist’s script seems a conventional story of a young woman attempting to muddle through her disappointing life but the shadow of this beach memory darkens Tilly’s humour and relatable foibles, hinting towards her looming health disaster.
Keays portrayal of Tilly was both recognisable and performatively stylised in that she always has a quick quip or a self-deprecating punchline on the tip of her tongue. She appeared overly un-bothered by the stagnation of her career and romantic aspirations but the forced apathy explains a troubling denial of her body and its health concerns which is intriguing. As a monologue, the audience got a good root around in Tilly’s internal psyche and Keays navigated Tilly’s encounters with other people with ease. The humour was well-delivered and nearly always landed even as the jokes became blacker and blacker.
The simple set design leant more sentimental than perhaps the script required with a trail of sand, shells, and stones strewn across the stage in a mock-beachscape. Lighting design by Artie Hotchkies also tended towards being overly illustrative or inelegant in its frequent changes in scenery and temperature as Tilly wandered through thoughts. The strength of the script lay in Gilchrist’s ability to hold Tilly’s childish sarcasm and her reasonable fear at the same time, straddling the two spaces of her current life and her romanticised memories.
Live a Little is a neat glimpse into a young woman’s life and the many ways one turns away from hard truths in favour of other possibilities, even if those possibilities are unreachable memories.
Live a Little is running at the Bordello from April 19th – 22nd as part of the KXT Popupstairs Season
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