Updated: Feb 25
As we bumble down the stairs into the Crescent, Georgie Coles, Rosie Doonan and Kylie Perry wander about the space welcoming us in with a generous offer of earplugs and pickled onion flavoured Monster Munch. All around me duly accept the crisps whereas I stand strong and refuse, I’m on a diet you see (and I much prefer Flamin’ Hot).
The three make up the collective The Paper Birds and I was as excited for this as an office station geek would be at getting their hands on a pack of 90gsm HP Inkjet Paper - if you’re not up to date with your paper quality, that means I’m very excited. The precursor for the show is clear: the trio wrote to groups of young people up and down the country in a quest to hear their concerns and promised to listen, REALLY listen. Ask Me Anything is their deafening response.
Over the 80 minutes, as they clamber about the stage on Rebecca Wood’s perfectly messy design, the three try their best to answer all the questions put to them but as the evening goes on they become increasingly burdened by their inability to offer any real advice to the heavy hitting questions; so for the ones they feel unauthorised to answer they enable the help of BRIDGE-IT (an Alexa like voiceover) alongside their friends and family via a series of recorded clips.
The group are incredibly likeable, with wholesome anecdotes aplenty. They are just normal people using their own experiences of adolescents rage and confusion to try and do what they can to help. The framing of Perry’s mock teen parody TV show, Cole’s mundane teenage diary clippings and Doonans’ heartfelt songs make the intimate VAULT audience laugh one minute, and weep the next.
Ask Me Anything is a scintillating, brave and rampant exploration of adolescent troubles, dealing with the themes of suicide and awkward sexual encounters with an abundance of warmth and compassion. Perry, Cole and Doonan have highlighted that in a tech-driven world of hate-filled noise and confusion, the most important thing to do is, not just talk talk talk but to listen; no matter how hard negativity tries to drown you out.
Ask Me Anything is at the Vault Festival in London until the 16th February before continuing its tour. Check out the dates and find tickets here - https://www.thepaperbirds.com/tour-dates/