Review: I'm A Minger, at Belgrade 2, Coventry
For a middle-aged man to write a one-person show about a 14-year-old girl requires a stretch of the imagination, but not many would be brave enough to play the part themselves.
Undaunted, that is what Malvern-based writer and actor Alex Jones does here, to remarkable effect.
In blonde wig, short skirt and a range of studied physical mannerisms, he conjures up his character Katie, a typical teenager from a supportive middle-class family with the usual adolescent preoccupations of self-image, status and peer-esteem.
Katie doesn’t communicate well with her teacher mother and pretentious amateur chef father. It seems she genuinely cannot tidy her room because it would involve carrying out a series of actions in a sequence she cannot grasp.
Initially secure in her texting circle of school friends, she is clear about which of her contemporaries are to be looked down on, and why.
But when she finds herself the victim of her friends’ fickleness and the bullying text messages start, her self-esteem collapses. When she casually logs on to a chat room discussing suicide the play takes us into a dark and lonely place.
The gradual ebbing of Katie’s self-confidence is beautifully written. The author’s tour-de-force performance, even including a brief ballet sequence complete with tutu, also spans a wide range of supporting characters effortlessly conjured up by changes of voice.
The play was partly inspired by a newspaper story about the suicide of a 14-year-old girl, and partly by Alex Jones’s observations of his own daughter and the pressures to which teenage girls are vulnerable.
It is touring across Britain after its initial run at the Belgrade and is clearly aimed at teenage or school audiences. But be warned that Katie’s reflections on life come fully armed with a highly graphic vocabulary.