The Blue Orange theatre is a small independent theatre in the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham , founded in 2011 with the intention of showcasing new drama and writing from this fabulous city I call home. This month is also the Birmingham Fringe Festival which is in its tenth year and has a jam packed programme of theatre events.
This evening I visited to see Fluff at the Blue Orange Theatre – an hour long one woman show, performed by Tayla Kenyon and written by Tayla and James Piercy.
Beautiful in it’s simplicity, Fluff is a thought provoking performance piece. Through engaging story telling and some fabulous accents we delve deep in to the memories of Fluff. From her birth story to her first crush, anecdotes of how her parents met, childhood bullying and glimpses of more of life’s challenges.
Tayla as Fluff was sat waiting for us on an almost stage as the doors to the theatre opened five minutes before the show began. As the lights went down she began to thumb through a small photo album in her hands and share her memories which make up her life story.
With only three chairs for props Tayla transported us directly in to Fluff’s memories which were set between her school, and later workplace, the pub her parents met in on a Sunday evening and her family home.
Fluff is funny, she’s loveable and she spins a good yarn. She remembers explicit details. All of the anecdotes had a familiarity to them which made them somewhat relatable, a quote her mom used to say, a song her dad used to sing, the accents and the gestures used to act out conversations with characters we never meet. It almost feels like you’re listening to a friend tell you about their day over dinner and drinks.
Then amongst the dark humour a really simple almost ghostly voice was our first confusing moment as an audience. Why would our lead suddenly pause in the midst of a story we were all eager to follow?
We learn that Fluff is facing the same battle with a degenerative disease as her father as she takes a genetic test. Stories she then shares become confused and mixed up. Whilst at the same time there’s moments of clarity where other stories align and the dots connect for the audience.
We see Fluff become confused and upset. Tayla Kenyon performs this with such sensitivity, her physical demeanour changes and the body language and hand movements help to escalate the confusion and offer us a glimpse in to how challenging it just be to lose that sense of self.
We realise that there’s been some real hardships for Fluff, and as the play draws to an end it becomes bittersweet, between the confusion there are moments of clarity where she remembers her life events and attempts to make amends.
It’s a very poignant piece of theatre.
I am passionate about making good memories with Arlo and always taking pictures, flicking back through albums together. Talking about our shared experiences creates a bond which unites us as a family. Both losing my memories and seeing someone I love lose theirs would be devastating for me and I got a real glimpse in to how that feels during this performance.
Our memories make us who we are. Even the not so good ones.
The whole story comes back full circle to where we began.
A wonderful performance and the audience was asked to give feedback as it is still in development.
My advice would be to not change a thing when it comes to the staging and direction. It doesn’t need to be over complicated at all. I could have easily sat for another half an hour as it seemed like Fluff had more stories to share, but perhaps these are now gone?
Designed to be reflective, I certainly felt a real sense of sadness as I left. Which I think was the intention.
Fluff Play is supporting Breakthrough, the Alzheimer’s Society and Herts Musical Memories