If you’re a mother with a teenage daughter or a teenager with a mother then you will find your self nodding in recognition at the play Little Misunderstood. This play, created and performed by mother and daughter Stephanie Fowler and Beatrice Fowler Campbell, is about the turmoil, joy, and misunderstanding between teenagers and parents.
The play was developed after Stephanie, the mom, convinced her then 14 year old daughter, Beatrice, to join with her in creating a piece for an event called Her Story in their home town of Owen Sound. Now as the parent of a teenager I find this in and of itself remarkable but they then set the bar higher by creating a play and taking it on the road beginning with the largest Fringe Festival in North America, The Edmonton Fringe. No small thing.
The writing rings of authenticity and has some real strength with the creators taking the opportunity to play with the ideas of seeing each other as completely alien to each other. In one scene we hear, via a nature documentary voice over, of the environment of the North American Teenager and in another a sports announcer doing a play by play of a fight between siblings. Good fun.
The strength of the play however lies in the dialogue between mother and daughter and then the follow-up monologues where we hear how they feel and why. There is no traumatic event in this play, no confessions of abuse, no suicide attempts, just the straight forward, day to day relationship between a mom and her teenage daughter and it is all the stronger for this.
The production however needs some tightening. The transitions between scenes in Little Misunderstood are awkward and often get in the way of the tempo of piece with the characters leaving the stage and leaving us waiting for the next scene to begin. Also, while the music, remakes of classic 80s tunes underlining the fact that everything old is new again, is very clever it also gets in the way of the tempo of the play. I would strongly advise these players, who I hope will keep creating together, to eliminate everything that gets in the way of the story and lose as many of the scene transitions as possible.
Also the ending, often the toughest part in the writing of a play, doesn’t quite pay off and the audience was left a little confused about whether the play was finished or not.
All in all a good show that I am confident will get better and better as the run at the London Fringe continues and I hope this mother and daughter company will keep working on it. And again, if you have a teenage daughter, or not, go see this show and support this unique team.
Reviewing for Theatre in London