'Dazzling' Review: ★★★★½

Performance Review

Charlie Scott-Haynes is captivating in Holly Sewell's gut-wrenching yet tender portrayal of a struggle with desire, obsession, and addiction.

Amber Ash

Charlie Scott-Haynes is captivating in Holly Sewell’s gut-wrenching yet tender portrayal of one person's struggle with desire, obsession, and addiction.

Sewell’s debut play tackles heavy themes – something that might make us (often with good reason) apprehensive in student theatre. Yet within the first few minutes of Dazzling, it is clear we are in safe hands. Deftly shifting between observational humour, poignant exchanges and high-energy spirals, this one-woman show achieves a careful balance. Self-aware and comedic in choice moments, its narrative is well-paced and the full image of Alix and their relationships comes into focus in its own time.

Alongside physical and emotional struggles, the production also grapples with themes of poetry and art. While at times the writing shows glimpses of originality in its lyricism, it also risks moments of cliché, and is unaided by the occasional fall into rhythmic delivery. Rather, it is in its natural moments of raw emotion that the script makes its impact. On the highs and lows of the relationship between Alix and Fiona, Sewell writes with particular lucidity and vulnerability, digging mercilessly into even the more frivolous aspects of desire, touching a few nerves in the audience as she does so. Introspective, authentic and self-indulgent, it is above all relatable.

Slipping easily between roles with a wry glance to the audience and an assured stage presence even in her more vulnerable moments, it is Scott-Haynes’ performance that allows the script to shine. With an energy that never falters and a clear sense of characterisation, she offers a masterclass in storytelling. Engaging the audience with dry, Fleabag-esque asides, and offering each character a distinctive vocal and physical presence, her every movement feels purposeful and is eminently watchable.

Viv Wang’s elegant direction manipulates the space to its fullest extent. The set, constituting a messy bedroom, doubles up as a club, a restaurant and an office, the transitions effectively signalled through use of props and consistent blocking. With effective sound and lighting to support the emotional shifts of the piece, the production comes together seamlessly.

An impressive debut show from cast and creatives alike, Dazzling offers a truly moving performance and can be found at theSpace, Niddry Street until the 22nd August. Tickets here!


© Copyright 2024 Cambridge Creatives

Site design by

Emily Shen