One of the few positives to come out of the last couple of years is the rise of online theatre. Charlotte Anne-Tilley’s Almost Adult began life as a Zoom play, under a different name, and has now matured into an hour long play that was performed to live audiences at The Space, with an accompanying live stream that remains available on-demand for a limited time.
In the intimate setting of The Space, we meet Hope, an aptly named character which is also portrayed by the writer, Anne-Tilley. We are immediately struck by Hope’s naivety, it’s endearing without being irritating and creates a bond between audience and character that has the former rooting for the latter throughout.
Believing that a recent job in the local Tesco Metro has provided her with enough life skills to make a fresh start, our plucky protagonist moves out of the family home in Macclesfield and heads for the bright lights of London. On realising leafy Kensington is out of her budget, Hope settles for a flat share in Finsbury Park. Her new flat-mate is Jenna, who seems to be more worldly wise than Hope, and it would have been nice to see some kind of relationship develop between the two.
But Jenna doesn’t feature heavily and instead, Hope sets out with an independent spirit. There are plenty of witty one-liners and references that Londoners will enjoy; the thrill of getting an Oyster Card, or finding that little bijou coffee shop that starts to feel like a second home. Also familiar to Londoners will be what comes later; the realisation that the cost of living is obscene, or that life can be even lonelier in a city occupied by millions of others.
Almost Adult could comfortably sit in the bracket of a coming-of-age story, but it pushes itself beyond that, exploring more difficult themes. Hope lands herself her “dream job” at a dinosaur themed bar, but the dream turns sour when she discovers the creepy manager, Daz, is sexually assaulting the female staff.
It’s here that Charlotte Anne-Tilley’s solo play really comes in to it’s own. Hope is brave enough to stand up for what she believes in, but doesn’t have enough life experience to cope with the aftermath, it demonstrates the difficulties faced by young people when they are technically adults, but lack the skills to face the harsh realities of the modern world.
Charlotte Anne-Tilley’s engrossing performance goes from high octane, to subdued reflection, and back again. A pop soundtrack accompanies the performance, and as well as providing dividing moments between scenes, also succeeds in reflecting the mental and emotional state of the central character.
As is often the case with productions of this size, there is little in the way of set and under the direction of Beth Wilson, Anne-Tilley doesn’t need it, the character and the performance are enough to hold the audience’s attention.
Without being immediately obvious, Almost Adult poses some serious questions that audiences are bound to be left thinking about after the performance ends. It’s smartly written and passionately performed, and whether it be viewed in-person or online will certainly leave audiences impressed.
Tickets for the on-demand stream are available here.