Beth is the girl you meet outside the pub when both of you are too drunk to care, and both of you have escaped the noise and the throng inside for a breath of fresh air – or maybe a cigarette. Beth turns 21 tonight, and for the next hour, will hold your attention completely.
Grace Vance makes a stunning Beth, with a sparkly dress and shiny eye makeup but subdued, drunk, defeated eyes. In her monologue, Beth touches on issues like the pressure to look good, the need to please boyfriends, the concept of consent, victim shaming, love, and of course, loss. The loss looms large and takes over the stage as Beth confides in us, with shaking hands and a wavering voice. What starts off as a ‘girl in a bar’ conversation expands in scope to take on issues that young women face today, as they grow up surrounded by people, yet still lonely.
Beth alternates between being herself and portraying the other characters she’s telling us about – from Christian fundamentalist to therapist to friend to her mum. Vance slips in and out of those characters with complete command over her expressions.
Vance’s delivery is commendable; I felt she was looking straight at me a fair few times. However, there are times when the show does become the ‘girl outside a pub who can’t handle her drink’ story. The script (by Rachel Ruth Kelly) becomes a stream-of-consciousness processing of problem after problem which made me feel less like the person outside a pub and more like her therapist. The script would be near perfect if it were a bit tighter and less repetitive.
Even so, this solo artist has done a fantastic job of presenting in a nutshell what’s wrong about living in today’s world. Be prepared to leave with a niggling sense of something being wrong and that you may be part of a bigger problem, communicated with poise and poignancy.