Review by Tatum Stafford
‘Dear Diary’ is a stunning, autobiographical piece of theatre from performer Kay Proudlove. Presented by Merrigong Theatre Company, it was such a treat to catch this show in its debut Perth Fringe season, and I’m sure the audiences who have seen it so far would agree it leaves an impact, and its star, Kay, is a force to be reckoned with.
A talented singer-songwriter, this show heads back in time to give the audience an insight into teenage Kay’s brain through her diary. It spans from a phone call she receives from her dad, informing her that her mum is turning her childhood bedroom into a sewing room so she needs to come home to pack up her things, to the familiar process of going through old things that spark old memories, good and bad.
Along the way we meet her parents, one of her friends from high school who she hasn’t seen since graduating, and some of her crushes, which we aptly see through her teenage self’s lens and verbatim words from the diary.
The show is beautiful in its simplicity. Kay is the only person on stage, and she transitions seamlessly from different characters, to addressing the audience and letting us in on the story. She is surrounded by simple set pieces, and is incredibly captivating to watch. The venue was a really nice fit for this show – the front row (where I sat) was just far enough from the lip of the stage to create a bit of illusion around Kay and her story, which is largely set in her childhood bedroom.
Kay has a stunning voice, and her original compositions that she plays on guitar and sings throughout the show punctuate poignant moments of the show beautifully, and often, very comedically. Shout-out to her ode to Elijah Wood, which was a clear audience highlight.
One of the most touching songs in the show comes towards the end. Without giving too much away, Kay delves delicately into the topic of body image and self-talk throughout the show, and pertinently in this song, which I’m sure resonated with the majority of people sitting in the dark watching her. Her lyricism is stunning, and her voice soars over her pretty melodies, making each song a real delight to sit and listen to.
The show balances the theme of nostalgia really well, by nodding to girl groups of her youth, and also delivering a few gut punches about growing up and growing out of things that you might have previously thought you couldn’t live without. The final five minutes or so of the show, before the final song, deliver some incredibly powerful messages that really hit home, and were articulated perfectly.
No matter how old you are, there’s something bittersweet about the nostalgia of youth, and this show both celebrates and commiserates the way we’ve all felt about our lives and our selves in the past. A really thought-provoking and emotional show that I’m glad I caught this Fringe.