On her 27th birthday, Cathy finds herself house-sitting in her childhood home – while her father and his wife, Yvonne (aka Why-vonne), travel and celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. Cathy chances upon her late mother’s favourite album, The Kick Inside by Kate Bush. And off we go on Cathy’s tragic nostalgia trip, as she begins a Bush-scored breakdown reliving her horrible childhood.
Cathy is documenting her mother’s thoughts on YouTube; most of the show consists of Cathy speaking to the audience as if we were her ever-growing tally of viewers. It sounds clunky, but actually it works quite well as a framing device for a confessional monologue. Writer-performer Lucy Benson-Brown’s solo turn as Cathy is striking. Spending so much time with this distinctly unlikeable character could prove wearing, but Benson-Brown draws us in, and shows us the obnoxious Cathy’s vulnerable side.
The storyline is not as neat as it could be. Cathy’s YouTube stalker Heathcliff never reveals himself, and ends up nothing more than a delivery service for an iconic prop. And Cathy’s inevitable YouTube fame feels as predictable as the eventual revelations about Cathy’s poor dead mother. (The more we find out about her past, the more it really does seem surprising how few of the people that surround the adult Cathy appear to have any idea that her troubled adulthood might be a result of her truly horrible backstory.)
But this is a compelling production, personal and engrossing. It looks beautiful, with Benson-Brown’s bold, physical performance and satisfyingly Bush-like costume choices in red, white and black. Sad stories about dead mothers can feel exploitative, but this play shows off some fancy footwork as it tells its own version of Cathy’s tragedy.