Alone in a Travelodge hotel room on the eve of the ceremony, writing her acceptance speech, she delivers up an emotional, anecdotal, etch-a-sketch monologue portrait of her life from childhood, via radical art student, to her current state as a "work-in-progress" settled, 40-something community centre worker, whose life is now one filled with safety and security, (married with a son; liked by the kids she teaches), alongside regrets about the loss of her radical "change-the-world" youth.
Not so much a play about mid-life crisis then (the only crisis revealed occurs in her 20s and seems shoehorned-in to up the dramatic ante in what is a slow-paced affair), as one about mid-life angst, with the script targeting profundities about womanhood, life, and lost dreams it only convincingly hit in patches.
To her credit, Smith has Paula recognise that what was important in our youth can fall by the wayside, or be tempered, as we grow older and our circumstances change and that compromise isn't so much a dirty word as simply a part of life. Yet from one of British Theatre's "Bright Young Things", it's not clear whether this is meant as sincere acknowledgement or an admonishment. Another drawback is that, despite Goldsmith's sterling efforts, Paula just isn't vital enough, either in her ordinariness, or memory of her former self, for the audience to emotionally invest in.
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