Mortified is a show where adults relive their most embarrassing teenage memories through readings from personal diary entries, letters of unrequited loves and crushes, lyrical poetry and home footage – in front of a crowd of total strangers.
Layla reads from her journal, written whilst growing up in Scotland. Alongside the memories of her infatuation with a girl called Elizabeth, whom she adores from afar, Layla fantasises about giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to her female teacher. If that wasn’t enough, she also falls for Geraldine Somerville from Cracker. Layla is comfortable laughing at herself, the diary entries surprisingly well-written and detailed for a teenager. Informing the audience that she’s been married to her wife since the age of 25 – approximately 14 years – the crowd cheer loudly.
Alice’s reading is the second highlight of the evening, in which she entertains with diary entries illustrating her intense crush on college classics teacher, ‘”Mr A”. Reciting cringe-worthy “emo” poems, she also can’t quite help but laugh at her naiveté. Things get slightly dubious as the teacher seems to reciprocate Alice’s feelings, making her little mix tapes and lending her books, which she secretly cherishes. Alice hides her crush by treating him with contempt, making the crowd laugh with delight at memories of this bright and cruelly acerbic adolescent.
Bonnie grew up with a feminist mother in Yorkshire, taking up boxing and spoken word poetry, the latter of which she performs tonight. She attempts to go on a “boy detox” after meeting unsatisfactory types. Her combination of sexual gags and rapping win the crowd over, the performer going through an episode in her life when her boyfriend compared her genitalia to chicken. She brings her current partner out on stage, who is made to wear the T-shirt she specifically made for him, on which is written a reference to that same memory.
The last participant recites from his teenage journal, living through a time of MSN instant messaging and dial-up Internet. He ardently loves noughties pop bands Steps and S-Club Seven, and is similar to the first reader in that he realises his sexuality after attempting to date girls.
The “second-hand embarrassment” of this show is definitely something worth experiencing, cathartic and bold, the live night’s a place to share your most mortifying memories – if you dare. As the host comes out on stage with all the contributors, he proudly declares, “We are freaks, we are fragile and we all survived”.
Photo: Mortified London
Mortified was at the Crescent on 15th February 2019.
Read more reviews from our Vault Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Vault Festival website here.