This show features theatre, acting, spoken word, poetry, movement but above all rock music! The acted sections serve as connecting elements between the songs, progressing the story and linking the musical interjections to the larger plot the performance.
It explores what makes an American. It searches within the roots of society, from the founding fathers of American values to the American dream and the fringes of society. It undoes some of these notions and builds on others. It follows the character of Mary through her life history, but it additionally looks at the wider society beyond her own life, how politics influences prejudice, how culture becomes lost and the abandoning of the marginalised within society. It furthermore questions how religion has hidden and obscured our own memories and identities. It's about the her personal story, but also about the larger societal expectations and politics around her, influencing and restricting her. It shows the contrast, the hypocrisy and the paradox that embodies what it truly means to be American.
The shows captures the existential crises that seems to resonate particularly amongst young people in today's climate. The feeling of being unsure and unclear of what the future holds. The idea of discovering ones self and finding out more about the society and politics we live within, whether that be socially, historically or theologically. It starts to examine where Mary is now, where her ancestors have been and how that impacts her own future, her own story. Where will she go next? What is her identity and what will be her future? How does she cope with not knowing the answers?
On a more personal level, this show tells the story of a young woman trapped within the traveller lifestyle and the social background she exists in. She wants to make it as a musician but the opportunities for somebody without roots or an address are few and far between. We watch her journey from uncomfortable and abusive relationships, through to building connections and friendships at drop-in diners, to performing at unlikely venues. Relationships are built on a shared experience of prejudice, judgement and stereotypes. She always comes out of situations stronger and more self-assured, building her musical talent along the way, and yet she owns next to nothing that is material or worth monetary value.
The band performing throughout the show, and the main actor herself, are all extremely talented. The music is edgy, alternative, rock and punk inspired. It's reminiscent of bands in the 70’s and 80’s, as well as the talent mentioned throughout the show like Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Stevie Nicks, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith to name a few. Yet it also has a modern twist, linking the act to bands today.
The solo show is performed by the performance artist, singer-songwriter, actor and writer Taige Lauren. Her work is self-devised, self-written, and inspired by her own journeys across America with a strong foothold in rock and roll, music canon and exploring the character's own identity within that. Her vocals are also something special. You could say she's similar to bands like The Pretty Reckless or Skillet and Halestorm. There’s something powerful and captivating about her voice.
At times it managed to take on a different edge to its genre. There was a country-inspired ballad, a folksy tune. There were also more punk-pop inspired moments, each dependent on where the star of our story was travelling to or located at the moment. It also reflected the mood of the character, and the experiences that were currently happening within the story.
Whilst the ensemble were most comfortable and excelled in the rock/metal/punk/alt genre, they clearly had the musical prowess to pull off any song whatsoever. The lead had an outstanding, unique voice. It felt like they could fill a huge stage playing in a room full of metal-heads, let alone fronting a smaller venue with a seated, more-reserved, room of fringe observers.
The performance had ethereal and entrancing moments where you were pulled into the character’s story, empathetic to her experiences and understood the perspective and the wider societal ideology being conveyed. The music helped add to the atmosphere. The show was both a musical, a rock-opera, a biopic, and an acted performance. If you like musicals, if you like theatre, if you like spoken-word or poetry, if you go to gigs or if you like rock or punk or any kind of music go watch this show. If you want a show that is earnest and electric, whilst in a more comfortable and accessible gig format, then go see this show. Really, there are few examples of why you shouldn't go see this show!