Friday, July 19, 2024
HomeCultureParty Girl

Party Girl

Party Girl
Writer: Lucy Heffernan
Director: Lily Hayman
KXT on Broadway
May 24 – 28, 2023

Party Girl, written and performed by Lucy Heffernan, is a strong and exciting opening to Purple Tape’s festival program “Taping Over” at the new KXT. From the moment Heffernan appears wearing a large and sparkling pair of fairy wings and holding an electric guitar she holds her audience spellbound. Her monologue, an intelligently balanced mix of humour and sadness interspersed with rock ‘n’ roll moments and some tongue-in-cheek use of props, takes them on an intensely moving journey.

Heffernan’s party girl is far from a fun-loving carefree libertine – although she likes a drink and to dance – but a sharp-eyed purveyor of children’s birthday entertainment trying to come to terms with childhood trauma. Her day-job as Fairy Sprinkles “flying into to the lives of the young to create magic” is demanding and on this particular Saturday, when she is heavily booked, she must also care for her mentally unstable mother threatening to fly from the roof of her apartment building.

Her mother, diagnosed as bipolar, bonded with her young daughter through telling bed-time stories, stories we assume of the fairy tale genre – the “Disneyfied” version. Later, and in a powerfully rendered number, Heffernan rejects both the stories, and the happy moments as “lies”. There was no happy-ever-after or magical rescue for sorrow – as the burden of being carer fell on a child who had to care for a mother. Her anger for her “stolen” childhood is tangible, yet Heffernan conveys the injustice of her circumstances rather than condemnation.

Fairy Sprinkles is most amusing when she is sardonically expounding the rules of being a party fairy. She lists them from one to ten, and while the rules provide structure for her narrative, some also sound like a 19th century mother’s strictures to her daughters on proper behaviour although some – unbelievably – still have current application. Heffernan skilfully draws out every milligram of comedy from the subtext.

The rule that fairies can’t park their cars close to The Home leads to a gusty song on walking in “Full Fairy” along a public path and the rule forbidding the fairy from giving her real name leads to much darker moments in her commentary. However, a swift shift and we are laughing at a unicorn head and a bubble machine and participating cheerily in donning party cap “horns”.

While Sprinkles can often appear raw and rough in her rejection of attempts to fashion a fairy fit for the young, she does not entirely reject it. She sees its worth in a child who believes in her, but, at this point, maybe we should be wondering whether she is fostering the same kind of lie as her mother’s happy endings. Maybe… or maybe not. Perhaps Rule 10 can provide an answer.

Clearly director Lily Hayman and the compelling Heffernan make an effective team, and the result is an acerbic laugh at the expense of traditional “feminine” behaviour and the poignant exploration of mental instability – and the connection between them.

















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