From the ‘tingling in the fanny’ she describes accompanying girlhood thoughts of Patrick Swayze, to the comparison of said body part with a ‘stuffed pitta’, Naomi Sheldon's one-woman show – which ran to acclaim at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe – deals with female sexuality with unfiltered candour.
Via her alter ego, the titular ‘GG’, Sheldon sends us on a semi-autobiographical journey through adolescence in Sheffield to early adulthood in London. Her evocation of the mid-Nineties is bang-on – pagers, bubble watches, ‘The Craft’ on VHS – but this is more than rose-tinted nostalgia: ‘Good Girl’ is as sad and bleak as it is astute and funny. Sheldon deftly navigates the intrigues of friendship groups, clumsy encounters with boys, and the cack-handed lunges at self-expression that most people are guilty of when they fly the nest for university life.
It’s a show about self-awareness; of perceiving how you’re perceived. GG is a well-behaved, high-achieving little girl before she grows revolted with herself and turns into a promiscuous tearaway. More specifically, it’s a show about that sense of obligated visibility that all women experience: always on display, always pretty, always compliant. It’s something GG has never coped well with – down to the impossible standards set by a vagina in a porn mag. This moment isn’t funny: it’s one of humiliation.
It’s to Sheldon's immense credit that she delivers a story of such depth and breadth with nothing but a podium beneath her feet. She has an incredible talent for voices, nimbly gear-shifting through the reedy Northern accents of her pals, but it’s her micro-expressions – impishness giving way to vulnerability; confusion to sorrow – that make this the highly accomplished debut that it is. This is visibility on her terms: is her life, her story, her stage. Accordingly, whatever Sheldon does next deserves our full attention.