It’s a road trip for Ellen Robertson and Charly Clive as they take to North America after school in the pursuit of John Hancock. He seems like as good a subject as any for their award-winning documentary film, footage that they show throughout Britney in: John. In truth, the footage is not going to win any prizes or an audience with David Attenborough any time soon. But Robertson and Clive know that – it’s a point of comedic value throughout the show. Ultimately, they went travelling with focus, an aim to interview men named John Hancock (after the founding father) and see whether the result paints a picture of the American societal norm. Britney in: John does not provide an exposé on the American archetypal identity, but it does provide for an amusing theatrical production.
Alicia (Yolanda Mercy) understands the millennials – swipe left/ swipe right, talk in emojis and never pay full price. Her life is one of discounted responsibilities and disengaged apathy. If Mum doesn’t know the answer, then Siri or Google will. She goes to lectures and has a computer to dictate her notes, so she can nap. But she’s sharp, she’s funny and she spouts words of truth like a preacher who we all pay rapt attention to. Mercy gets the disillusioned twenty-somethings; we are promised that life will be easy but in reality, we face a future with no clear direction.
At ten years old, GG (Naomi Sheldon) is of the impression that in order to be liked, she has to be a Good Girl. She’s at the county swimming championships and her coach is telling her to keep going, like a good girl. It’s such an awkward comment to make given today’s climate – the sinister connotations are hard to miss, despite it simply being a platitude of encouragement. But such an innocuous phrase seems to set up the remainder of GG’s emotional life, sticking in her mind at a pivotal developmental point for any child. Sheldon’s script tackles the damage caused simply by being anxious to fit in, to conform, to be a Good Girl.
Rehanna Macdonald is desperate to find out who she is, discover her identity and her heritage. But all she can hear is the voice of Idi Amin laughing at her from beyond the grave. Her parents fled Uganda to escape one of history’s most notorious dictators and settled in Dundee – it was the only place with no waiting list for relocation once they made it to the UK. MacDonald has grown up with a tough skin and a broad accent, full of pace and power as she opens The Last Queen of Scotland by running away from a fight in a nightclub. But she can’t shake the feeling that her tormentor is constantly at her back in Jaimini Jethwa’s punchy script of longing to belong.
Thomas Magill (Thomas Campbell) lives with his Mammy (Deborah Galanos) in what appears to be a hoarder’s abode. Kate Gaul’s design throws old cassette tapes and clutter everywhere, with the general smell of dank mustiness in the air. There’s a surrealist vibe to it all – unsurprising given the nature of Enda Walsh’s script. Nate Edmondson’s compositions waft across the stage, initially all playing over each other to mimic the disorganised clutter around. Misterman contains many such devices, clever depictions of the jumbled state of Magill’s mind as he goes about his potentially real, potentially fictional day.