In #DearDiary, the Melbourne-based actor Andi Snelling achieves the seemingly impossible. She manages to turn 20 years worth of diaries into an entertaining, highly amusing and climatically moving piece of theatre.
#DearDiary is a one-woman show that tells the story of Andi from childhood to now, using only verbatim diary entries. Andi doesn’t speak for the first 5 minutes, but as soon as she enters the stage, your eyes are utterly transfixed by her. Such is the power of Andi’s physical presence, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, given her extensive experience in physical comedy and movement.
The show is a multimedia experience – using sound, screens, song and dance to bring Andi’s diaries to life. It begins lightly – Andi mimes and sings her way through her childhood, leaving the audience hysterical in its wake. Then, we travel with her to France. Andi goes on exchange and her 15 year old self is suddenly plunged into a world of boys and awkward sexual encounters.
Never leaving you bored for a second, the show takes a strange turn midway through – we suddenly find ourselves watching a game show with Andi, now moustache-clad, as our host. Audience members ask questions – eg. what is the point of getting out of bed in the morning? – and Andi answers these questions using only (you guessed it) verbatim diary entries. It is in this section that we really get a sense of Andi’s improvisational skills – she riffs delightfully with the audience, at the end handing out a gift to a selected audience member for, as she puts it, ‘no reason whatsoever’.
Just when I started to think that the show was pure comedy, the final act came, and with it, an intimate look at the darker pages of Andi’s diaries. Andi offers us her darkest thoughts and moments, sharing her experiences of depression and family suffering through painful diary scribbles. By the end the show, Andi is crying and we have made it back to the present day.
#DearDiary is a truly wonderful piece of theatre, devised and performed by the talented Andi Snelling. It is on at The Butterfly Club in Melbourne until the 5th of June.
Review written by Beth Gibson