Don’t Let Me Down, written by Andy Goddard and performed by Ciara Baxendale, covers the world through the eyes of a child, but with the hindsight of an adult who has been through a lot. When looking back on certain memories, they tend to change depending on how old you are, or even what frame of mind you are in at the time. This play is very cleverly written with this in mind, and feels like Tess – ‘This is the story of my life. I’m fictional’ – is telling you personally, as a friend, the tale of something that happened as if it was just the other day.
Baxendale has a good rapport with the audience from the start. She shouts for quiet and introduces herself, and the fourth wall is broken many times from then on. She acknowledges our reactions, her props and mostly any hiccups that happened. It’s a lovely mix of personal storytelling and narrative performance. Goddard’s writing style is slick, comedic, and to the point. His words are performed with a rhythm that carries the energy along nicely.
Directed by Freyja Winterson and with a strong team of creatives (Molly Beth Morossa, Ethan James and Odinn Orn Hilmarsson), this show is well put together and really does hold the audience’s attention.
The music designed by Hilmarsson creates an extra ambiance; there are times when Tess gets lost in the world of her eight-year-old self, and these moments are beautifully defined through the sound and the dream-like lighting changes. The projections by Ethan James are clever, but underused, as more reaction to, and working with them, would have added to the effect.
At times, it was difficult to hear what was being said. The difficult venue combined with poor projection, (though this seemed to be more the personal story-telling style rather than first night nerves) meant that the audience had to really concentrate to ensure they did not miss anything.
Over time, however, Baxendale settled into the performance and so did the spectators. The casual account of Tess’ eighth birthday comes to an abrupt ending, and given the darker moments that occur almost unnoticeably throughout the play, it’s a scary finish. It’s a thoughtful moment of which reality is true? Overall, however, we are glad that this little girl has grown up feeling okay about life. She seems to be a strong, independent woman now and her coping mechanisms seem to have worked.
Full of dry comedy, honesty and that ever-present personal touch, Don’t Let Me Down is a beautiful metaphor for coping in a big, scary world. It’s personal, generally uplifting, and has a lot of endearing moments that bring a smile.
Review by H Hemming
“It’s all fun and games ’til the balloon says hello”
The world seems a cold place after the death of her father, but things take a strange turn when Tess receives a special birthday present. Don’t Let Me Down is an exploration of childhood, laughter, and let downs through the eyes of a child and her balloon. Fusing deadpan comedy, raw honesty and a wry writing style, this is a modern day fairytale where things are not quite as they seem.
Don’t Let Me Down is a sad comedy written and produced by Andy Goddard. It stars BAFTA winner Ciara Baxendale (Mad Fat Diary, Harriet’s Army). It is directed by Freyja Winterson (Yet Another Carnival, I’m Just Here To Buy Soy Sauce), features music by Odinn Orn Hilmarson (Valkyrie, Hector Vs. The Future), and design from Molly Beth Morossa (Dr. Carnesky’s Incredible Bleeding Woman, Greywing House).
Andy Goddard is a Producer/Director of hit podcast sitcoms Wooden Overcoats (Prix Europa nominee, iTunes Best of 2015) and Hector Vs. The Future (Audiodrama library show of the year 2016). Don’t Let Me Down is his playwriting debut.
Don’t Let Me Down
A new play by Andy Goddard.
21:30 THE PIT – VAULT festival,
8th-12th February 2017