Glee and Me, Swan Theatre, Yeovil

GLEE ­– defined as “great delight, especially from one’s own good fortune or another’s misfortune”. Glee ­– a popular American television series set in high school, about the rights of passage of teenagers, at whom it is aimed. Glioma ­– a brain cancer.

Stuart Slade wrote Glee and Me in 2019, and its audacious style and in-your-face subject matter won him awards. It’s a full-length monologue for an exceptional young actress, so you won’t see it too often – maybe Jodi Comer’s just missed the boat!

The latest in a long line of super-talented actors from Yeovil and the surrounding area, Georgia Holder, is performing the play at the Swan Theatre until 21st January, and it is an astonishing tour-de-force not only of memory but of nuance, subtlety, rapidly-changing emotions, determination, fear, WTF aggression and, ultimately, a kind of mature peace, achieved in 12 months after a death-sentence diagnosis.

Lola is a super-bright student, arrogantly relying on her own superiority over her fellow students. When she starts fitting in the night, her mother thinks it’s drugs. But a blue-light ambulance to hospital and extensive tests lead to the shocking truth. So Lola gives her growth a name – Glee – and determines to live her short life to the full with lots of sex and a world-changing scientific discovery.

The reality is less dramatic, and we (the audience and the actor) watch the highs and lows of her days and months with the knowledge that there is only one outcome.

Director Mark Payne and his technical team have created a perfect setting for Georgia Holder to explore every facet of Lola, from her design and clothes choices to her literary preferences, from her careless abandonment of an old friend to her discovery of her mother’s love.

Oddly, when she dies … as die she must … the ending is hopeful. Lola exemplifies the best of human spirit, expressed in what just a few years ago would have been profanities too strong to be heard on the amateur stage.

See it if you can. Watch out for Georgia Holder.


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