Freya Bardell bursts onto the stage, gyrating to the Pussycat Dolls’ ‘When I Grow Up’. I would say I was surprised, but then the play is called Twenty Something – isn’t this just what we’re meant to expect? A deftly executed mix of stand-up and performance, satire and realism, the one-woman show is, at just under an hour, an evocative snapshot of millennial life.
The remarkable seamlessness of the show is a testament to Bardell’s skill. The breadth of material covered might have rendered the production disjointed and incoherent, but instead the narrative, though fast-paced, was as fluid a movement as a scroll through Facebook. There were points where the performance lingered a little too much on some of the longer and more predictable narratives about boys, but Bardell’s unbridled energy held audience interest.
the narrative, though fast-paced, was as fluid a movement as a scroll through Facebook
The show itself was full of a certain pride in the millennial generation, a rarely espoused view in much of contemporary media. Rather than dismiss and criticise, the audience are invited to share in her experiences, and to consider whether they are uniquely millennial problems, or merely problems every generation has faced, but never struggled through quite so publicly. The performance both questioned some aspects of the caricature of millennial life which we are often presented with, whilst reverberating, shamelessly, the truisms.
Bardell sprinkles the show with various pertinent quotes from the author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek, which echo back at the audience throughout, offering a lens to the performance. However, the lines Bardell chooses to present are choice, and could hardly be considered a fair analysis of Sinek’s position. Nevertheless, we are still effectively asked to consider whether millennials are everything the internet says we are, which is, according to Simon Sinek “entitled… self-interested, unfocused, lazy…”
The performance both questioned some aspects of the caricature of millennial life, whilst reverberating, shamelessly, the truisms
Twenty Something seeks to explore the construction of the millennial. Permeated by relevant, relatable moments, it’s difficult to watch Twenty Something and not feel as though Freya is one of your friends, telling you the sordid and intimate details of each moment. She neither outright denies millennials live up to their tropes, nor desperately seeks to prove otherwise, but merely relaying her experience of the world. Some of the anecdotes were a little trite, and the gimmicks, including throwing various confectionary into the crowd (albeit appreciated) could have been done away with, but at almost an entire hour, a one-woman show is an achievement in and of itself. Twenty Something is thought-provoking, seamless, and a perfect mix of realism and satire. In one word? Resonant.