The topic of the “7/7” bombings may incite a sense of inferiority in an Edinburgh audience. Not only has nobody deemed our capital important enough to be subjected to an equivalent outrage, but the mention of London’s efficient Tube system may aggravate those who have travelled to the Pleasance Zoo theatre via Lothian Buses, passing the scars left by its unsuccessful tram surgery. Yet Molly Naylor’s “Whenever I Get Blown Up I Think of You,” which recounts a flight from the Aldgate East explosion, is a lovely piece of poetic theatre, prettily written and pleasantly recited. Molly is a wistful, smiley Essex girl, who seems a bit hopeless and dippy, but she is in reality thoroughly shrewd. Her recital periodically builds up to little lyrical spurts, rolling along like a bicycle on the flats, but the frequency of its smart, funny lines means that you are never left behind.
This is not so much a show about the 7/7 bombings, but about mine – and Molly’s – own listless generation, which cannot seem to do or make or achieve anything. Molly describes a party where “nobody here knows how to put up shelves.” She describes:
The subtext that life will save us.
But we don’t know this yet.
Nobody asks, what if life doesn’t save us.
Because every day the market swells like a dying fish,
Every day we get a new Mastercard in the post,
And a genie laughs – that was your third wish.
I identify with Molly Naylor. Like myself, she has an Essex accent and she smokes Lucky Strikes and she migrated from an empty rural suburbia to the big city. Her world is very familiar to me – she describes teenagers “exuberating in their limitlessness” and a kid brother resigned to the “lethargy” of university. The “You” of the title is presumably not Molly’s boyfriend, Laptop Boy, but “her” bomber Shehzad Tanweer, who was virtually the same age as Molly (and three months younger than myself). Molly envies Tanweer’s “conviction,” which she contrasts sadly with her own failure to stick to vegetarianism. Eventually, however, an odd incident leads her towards the right sort of conviction and a far fitter “You”. Her father has brought home a deer killed on the road, and he struggles to carve up the animal in the cause of a stew. He is soon standing in the ruins of its body, looking as forlorn as a little brother who “has smashed his big brother’s Lego spaceship.” Molly’s father is an artist and an educator, and his own passion for life puts her bang to rights.