It’s probably fair to say that most of us miss many opportunities throughout each day to notice and acknowledge those who smooth our paths and quietly do their small bit to get us where we need to go. If we take a minute to stop and pay attention – to look up from our phones and take out our earbuds – we may be surprised at what we see.
Writer and theatre-maker Molly Taylor is based in London. Her original works spring from everyday experiences and are often produced in collaboration with others, including community groups, with the aim of creating shows that connect with her own life and the lives of those around her.
In her 2018 Adelaide Fringe offering at Holden Street Theatres, Taylor explores the way three characters’ fortunes change after unexpected encounters on public transport.
Tam yearns to write the perfect one-man play. Margaret’s grief pushes her into the path of an unlikely saviour. On a night out in Brixton, a girl, single for the first time in a long time, meets a boy who happens to sit at the same pub table. It’s the beginning of something unexpected and the start of Molly’s quest to track down and thank the people responsible for bringing her to this particular point in her life.
Love Letters to the Public Transport System, originally produced by the National Theatre of Scotland, was nominated for Best New Play at the Scottish Critics’ Awards for Theatre in 2011, sold out its run at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe and has since been staged in London and Norway.
It’s an emotional hour of storytelling which weaves together stories that prove timing is everything.
Holding an audience’s attention for the duration of a show when you’re the only person on stage is not an easy feat. Taylor (who also wrote and directed the piece) has no trouble at all engaging us from the start to the satisfying end of the performance.
It’s just her, on a bus seat, shifting accents and body language as she introduces us to the characters and their worlds.
The common thread that binds these narratives? Give a smile and a wave of thanks to the public servants who keep the buses, trains and trams running. Be thankful for the Barrys, the Brians and the Gavins for the journeys they’ve made and the ones they’ve enabled.
This gem of a performance reminds us that it’s not always the big moments in our lives that are worth celebrating. It’s possible for things to be both mundane and inspiring at the same time, although we might take a while to realise it.
Love Letters to the Public Transport System is showing at Holden Street Theatres until March 1.