By: Sara Lamerton, TRP Reviewer
For a second, let’s imagine you’re setting off on a journey of discovery. One that, you hope, will be filled with exciting, creative opportunities in a country far from your home. Imagine all the physical, mental and emotional preparation to take that step: the goodbyes to friends and family, the journey, the arrival, the newness of the unknown. Now imagine achieving all of that but you’re suddenly smacked with a global pandemic. Alone, isolated, far from your nearest and dearest, unable to live any sort of life, let alone the shiny, new, hopeful one you dreamt so long of.
Well, that’s exactly what happened to Close Enough writer-performer Christina Varga upon moving to Plymouth from Bucharest, Romania. Struck by the hand of fate, Christina’s hero’s journey found itself taking an unexpected turn. However, like all great protagonists who commit to their story, a funny, heartwarmingly personal tale blossomed from the stagnant uncertainty.
Close Enough explores Christina’s motivations, hopes, fears, insecurities and dreams.
As the first generation of Romanians free from Communism, they’re still constantly taught things are better elsewhere – better countries with better economies and better people. And as the collective desire for ‘more’ multiplies: more possessions, well-paid jobs, wider reaching experiences; so too does Christina’s desire to experience life outside of the traditional expectations set long before the country grew its own wings.
Armed with a simple desire to take the road less travelled, exemplary English language skills (or so she thinks, until face-to-face with the complexity of real-world English accents), and a lifelong relationship with the goddess Shakira, Christina throws herself head first into a strange new world. Ultimately inspiring this quirky, extremely funny, multi-layered autobiographical performance.
Initial difficulties and festering doubts set aside, Christina forges ahead even though, at times, her new reality is lonely and uncertain. Finding humour in the struggles, she affectionately pokes fun at both cultures. A particular highlight for me was a musical rendition of unspoken British Rules. These include:
- Always being ‘fine’ no matter what the situation. No one really cares how you are when they ask, so don’t accidentally, like she did, launch into the truth of your life.
- Saying ‘sorry’ for anything and everything.
- Holding the door open for everyone, potentially forcing people to take a path that they didn’t even want.
- Waving for the bus, just in case, else it might not stop.
- Ignoring the rain. It does not hold us back, or impact life here at all. It’s totally FINE!
Despite finding herself in a mental space where she neither totally belongs here nor there this adventure is certainly far from conclusion. Close Enough is much more akin to a promising beginning for this talented young performer. Like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, the show is brave, honest and ready to transport our hero into a world. One where she no longer cleans up after others, but is the writer, director and performer of her own destiny.