Bristol Theatre Reviews

Review: Tink at Tobacco Factory Theatres

Stand tall, shout loud and fly high. This empowering piece of theatre from Kat Kleve and Lizzy Connolly, is a heartwarming affair containing surprising emotional depths you don’t see coming.

Tink is not that fairy we all know. Not that one written by that old Victorian man who gives her no words to say and pushes her out of the picture. The man pitting her against Wendy with his olden day values and all because of that man-child Peter. Tink is her own person and she’s writing her own story. But how successful will it be?

This coming of age piece sees Kat Kleve as Tink, sustain the audience for an hour in this enchanting one-person performance.

The musical play might feature an elf patriarchy, flying races and fairy wings, but, we know this world. We’ve been Tink, with the weight of societal expectations and complex social situations to navigate with the same mixed results as we grow and age. It’s too familiar for a fairy land.

Was that a compliment? Was it an insult? Do I fly too masculine? Why is my friend surrounded by those sissy Hufflepuff type girls. I better laugh too even though it’s fake laughing because it’s not really funny. I’m having a ‘nice day’ row with my mum.

We follow Tink from the age of 5, a confident, exuberant fairy with a lot of heart and zero filter . The timeline gently transitions to different stages in her life. Year 7. Prom at 16. A Terrible drunken night at 17. The death of her mother, which hits the audience like a punch to the heart. We see her grief and we see her living with that, discovering who she was meant to be and owning it.

That this is a debut for the musical writing pair is surprising, given the on-stage performance and high quality writing. It’s astute and observant, drawing on pop culture references and with archetypal characters that we recognise. Kat Kleve’s performance is a joy to watch. It’s pleasing to hear more genuine Bristolian accents finding their way into the stage, which gives Tink an extra spark of life.

Rachael Duthie’s lighting washes the stage in atmospheric pinky purples, with bulbs suspended in the action like dancing fireflies. It’s the perfect example of keeping it unfussy yet magical.

There feels like bags of neurodivergent energy in this show, which will appeal to young people – particularly girls and young women – who do not find themselves well represented in theatre. Especially with the kind of well-rounded character that Tink is.

She is hyperactive. Talks a lot, yet struggles with friends. Masks her struggles with social cues growing up. She is too LOUD. She has to hold that loudness in. She’s academic yet socially struggles to get a sentence out. Yes we all struggle with that to a certain extent, but in the neurodivergent world, identifying that struggle with those specific difficulties within other characters that are not presented that way is important for diverse communities.

The show is billed as being suitable for audience members 13 years upwards, which feels right. It feels particularly suitable for girls aged 15 years upwards who identify as autistic or ADHD and are navigating that social struggle in life.

The duration of the show is an hour and does feature themes of bereavement in one section around 45 minute in.

Tink is on at Tobacco Factory Theatres until 04 March 2023.

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