In which I see Molly Taylor’s Love Letters to the Public Transport System.
The second day of the fringe, Saturday, I was reminded how truly wonderful it is that the mister is now living permanently back in Adelaide. For the last two years, the first term has been a blur of school cricket, district cricket, cricket training, cricket coaching (one on one), early morning swimming training, late night band rehearsals and a brazillion other adolescent activities all requiring my support in some way. This is the first first-term (read it again slowly and it will make sense I promise) that the mister has been back in Adelaide and he is like, ‘Woah! For real?’ and I am like, ‘Yep,’ and then I roll over and go back to sleep and let him get up to take the floppy adolescent to swimming training and the future prime minister to one of the two cricket games he plays on Saturday and could he please stop at the supermarket on the way home because we’re out of milk again. So anyhoo, while the mister left home at 6.30 am and did his final pick up parenting duty at midnight, I was left to tidy the house a bit (which mostly involves shifting the tsunami of school bags and sports equipment that builds up at the front door of the house during the week), do an hour of work, a quick rehearsal and then take in two pieces of excellent theatre, again at Holden Street Theatres.
To be honest, if you want to be sure that you are taking in the best theatre that the fringe has to offer, you can pick up a copy of Holden Street’s programme and just work your way through that. Of course, then you would be missing the quiet, hidden gems like my little show, but I’ve told you about it, and given you the details an embarrassing number of times so you won’t miss that one at least.
I decided to do a quick Saturday binge to try and get a few shows in before the intensity of my week began and I bought tickets for Love Letters to the Public Transport System for 4.30 pm to be followed by Henry Naylor’s Borders at 6 pm. I was not the only person who had this idea so I shared my afternoon’s theatre experience with a bunch of people I didn’t know, although I did recognise a few because this is Adelaide and there’s always someone you were in a meeting with as a graduate thirty years ago, or someone you were just cursing quietly under your breath as they loaded forty-two items onto the ten-items-or-less conveyor belt.
Love Letters to the Public Transport System is a monologue written and performed by Molly Taylor. Without a car, Molly has long relied on public transport and this is the story of her attempts to thank you the people who have taken her back and forth to her destined encounters. The spark to write is ignited after Molly falls in love and, living in the glow and wonder of that time, wants to share her gratitude. It is a potentially naff premise. But she writes so beautifully and she is so genuine in her wish to share the joy of love’s first flourish that even if you do think, ‘this is potentially naff’, you will soon be telling yourself off for not just giving in right from the start. Her face is full of expression that drew me in within seconds and the simple staging helps bring a focus to the storytelling so that it wasn’t until I was thinking about it afterwards that I realised she hardly even left her seat (if at all). Plus, she delivers it all in her Liverpudlian accent giving it a lilt and a poetry that my drawl-tuned self lost herself in. It is a celebration of the joy of life, our inter-connectedness, our duty to each other to share life’s goodness.
I went along to this by myself, and perhaps because it was 4.30 pm on a Saturday afternoon when so many of my compadres are at the U16s cricket, I was among the youngest in the audience. Except the woman next to me who was drinking a Cooper’s Ale which was a little enticing, but she was too cool to speak to me, whatevs. Mind you, she was a better theatre companion than the woman to my right who dragged an A5 pad out of her bag and began taking notes–which is fine, I often take notes myself–only her pad was one of those ultra-crinkly black and gold ones so whenever she finished a page and folded it back I couldn’t hear anything except crinkling. And the crinkling went for a long time, because in an acknowledgment of how loud the crinkling might be she did it veeeeery slowly so as not to disturb the rest of us. Humans, eh? Oh, also, the man in the row in front of us who, when asked if he could move along by one seat because there was just one seat between him and the next person and the theatre was getting full and if he moved along one seat then two people who had come together could sit together at the end of the row, said, ‘But I was told it’s General Admission and I can sit anywhere and I’m sitting here.’ Srsly, WTF, my friend, you looked like a goose and you embarrassed your friends. I’ve just read over this paragraph and it’s made me laugh that up there I’m telling you about our duty to share life’s goodness and now all I’ve done is bitch and whinge. I did love at the end how we all kind of sighed collectively and the gentle chatter as we left all knowing that we had shared beautiful, funny, moving theatre.
Love Letters is a well-tested work that’s been showing since 2012 and comes to Adelaide after seasons in Edinburgh, a tour of Scotland, and time at the Royal Court Theatre, London. I only mention this because watching it did indeed freak me out in a, ‘Gah! What was I thinking? Why should I ask anyone to spend time on my show when they can come to this?’ And I had to give myself a stern, ‘It’s okay, everyone starts somewhere, everyone’s art is legitimate …’. Also, Molly Taylor was running a workshop on writing monologues that I would love to have gone to (to which I would love to have gone), but it was on right in the middle of my season (‘my season’ ha!) and I thought I would do myself more harm than good by thinking, ‘Oh, that’s how you do it, oh, if only I’d known.’
So if you’ve read this far you’re probably thinking, ‘Didn’t she say she went to two things?’ Well, yes, I did, but I will write about Borders in the next post. In the meantime, you should one hundred percent go to see this show.