Molly Naylor was sitting on a tube on the 7th July 2005 when a bomb exploded on the circle line train at Aldgate. Knocked to the floor and caught in the smoke, she sought the comfort of her boyfriend and the strangers beside her. From this moment on, everything in Naylor’s life would be somewhat thrown off, as if her world had stopped but the people kept going – she was lost. Whenever I Get Blow Up I Think of You is a lyrical story of Naylor’s experience from before and after the bombings. It confronts the emotions and changes in her life, but also extends further to dream of possibly meeting the Aldgate bomber.
The piece reflects on Naylor as a person being involved in something as life-changing as a bombing, yet her sense of humour and storytelling stop the emotion in Whenever I Get… taking control. What starts with an informal greeting soon sweeps into words that shift and change. The narrative is as lyrical as spoken word poetry whilst still retaining a sense of a performance piece. The piece extends to her life in Cornwall and under-appreciating the normality of life in the country compared to her dreams of living in the city. She, like most of us, escapes to the city and begins her many jobs to get by. Yet the bombing alters all of this, and Naylor flees to the comfort of the quiet country.
What makes Whenever I Get… great as a piece of theatre is its sense of openness, greatly helped by Naylor as a compelling storyteller. She speaks openly, and with a sense of honesty and frankness that comes from something big happening in your life. I’m not saying that she comes across as a wise old sage, but it’s clear that her blood runs thick with experience. It’s a comforting quality to watch in a solo piece when so much depends upon the delivery of a lone performer. Equally, Naylor’s sense of poetic voice is surprisingly addictive to listen to, she twists and turns the narratives, allows it to momentarily explode before capturing it and nurturing the story once more.
There are some deeply compelling moments that seem to not only resonate with Naylor’s experience but also with our own. The London bombings hold memories for us all, and I find myself instantly drawn to the story, wanting to know more, wanting the inside story. Perhaps this reflects our media-obsessed lives, where our desire to hear stories, see photos and view videos to enhance our ‘experience’ of the situation overrides the subtly Naylor gives her tale. Yet it is when the story progresses that I almost feel as though the audience are left behind – in the tunnel, waiting to be rescued. You might find that statement dramatic or over-exaggerated, but it’s true, Whenever I Get.. seems to drift off and I can’t follow, which ultimately means that I miss out on the ‘moving on’ progressive nature of the narrative. Perhaps this says more about me as a person and my unwillingness to let go, but for me, the heart of the work is within that tunnel, and perhaps that’s a story waiting to be told another time… perhaps not.
All the same, Naylor presents a compelling narrative that manages to really capture a sense of her personality and the events of the bombings, where “the thin skin of London was cracked open”, is mixed with humourous tales of life as a new Londoner. Whilst I clearly couldn’t follow through the narrative, there is a a compelling performance to be absorbed and Naylor is especially good at relaxing and presenting herself as a storyteller with exceptional clarity. (Oh, and anyone who willingly hands out biscuits during their performance,gets a good review!)
Whenever I get Blow Up I Think of You is playing at the BAC until 28th May. For more information see the website here.