The Bristol Old Vic’s Autumn 2012 programme is shaping up to be an absolute blinder. Not one of the shows I’ve seen so far has been a disappointment, and You’re Not Like The Other Girls, Chrissy is easily my favourite so far.
Tucked away in the downstairs Studio space of the building (‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore is in the main theatre), Caroline Horton’s one-woman show is a joyous 60 minutes of feel-good charm.
Based on the true story of Caroline’s own grandmother Christiane, the true life element makes us root for the protagonist even more. In 2002, Caroline helped her grandmother move into sheltered housing and while packing up her things, Caroline discovered a box of Christiane’s wartime letters. And they told her the story of how her French grandmother met her English grandfather just before war broke, how they were separated for the duration and how they fought to be united six years later.
With no schmaltz, You’re Not Like The Other Girls, Chrissy uses simple props (suitcases filled with magic and music) and an exuberant performance to take us from Paris to Cheadle, to the Isle of Wight and further afield. Echoing the feel of Persephone Books’ hot-water-bottle novels (those that are ideal for indulging with on a rainy afternoon, or as a pick-me-up), this play is a perfect example of biographical storytelling, family history and world history.
Wartime romances may be a topic that has never struggled with publicity, but it’s important for audiences (especially younger ones) to remember that if we’re talking about someone’s grandmother, we’re also talking about very recent history.
Caroline’s perfect French really helps to bring the show to life, and her facial expressions must be seen to be believed. She has great comic timing and had the audience in the palm of her hand. Both my friend and I were wiping a tear from our eyes at the end. I very much hope the Bristol Old Vic brings Caroline back with her future productions.