What a play! Lucy Burke’s Glitter Punch proves an absolute highlight of London’s VAULT Festival, Emily Stott also makes herself a name to watch.
“It’s me and you, against the world – John and Molly”
Oh I haven’t wanted to walk out of a show this much in ages. In the best possible way, you understand. The relationship at the heart of Glitter Punch is a thing of absolute wonder, as written by Lucy Burke and acted so damn well perfectly by Emily Stott, I just didn’t want it to end. And if I had walked out, it would have been a happy ending for everyone and everything would have been golden.
But life is rarely like that. And when the punch to the gut comes – and by God is there a punch to the guts, two in fact – the weight of the world comes crashing down and you’re left re-evaluating everything you’ve just seen. The little details that didn’t quite jibe, the inconsistencies that felt a little odd, things you barely noticed suddenly become clear. The certainties you held, thrown up in the air as they’re uncompromisingly tested.
As a tale of first love in Salford (not the nice part, the rubbish bit), Glitter Punch is highly engaging. The first in her family to go to college, Molly is a wonderfully mardy soul who can’t quite believe her luck when she meets the brooding John in the smoking corner. He’s moved up from London, he’s the sensitive type, he even wears nice shoes (gotta love a man in nice shoes) and flirtation over lighters soon turns into romance.
Burke writes beautifully about the trials of teenage life – the external inarticulacy that belies rich emotional lives bursting to get out, the consequences of a lack of decent sex education, that innate craving to love entirely and completely. And in Stott, she finds a wonderfully empathetic performer who celebrates Molly’s glorious northern bluntness and insecurities without ever condescending, bouncing emotively off of Anthony Fagan’s faintly hipsterish John who rarely has much to say.
And then… and then… Burke flips the script in the final five or ten minutes and you can’t help but consider some pretty serious issues, ones interrogated here with no prejudice or bias, just a request to think deeply about whether grey areas can ever exist, or if boundaries are meant to be held hard and fast. A beautiful piece of writing and a stunning piece of acting – as with The Sixth Sense, I simply have to see Glitter Punch again.