Playwright and performer Krystina Nellis is a love letter to the joys of autism in the world of gaming. As Kelly juggles being the local ‘weirdo’ and her father’s chronic illness a gaming competiton in her small town provides a light at the end of the tunnel.
Glitch prides itself on not only depicting autism on the stage but providing a safe and welcoming space to those on the spectrum, with sunglasses and headphones provided for louder, brighter scenes and encouraging audiences to come and go as they please. The captioned performance, using blocky video game animation was a really nice and relatable touch. It was hard not to just look at the screen as it was such an interesting bit of video design that served a key purpose. Callie Nestleroth’s direction of this monologue is engaging; incorporating video design and performance seamlessly in a show that accommodates its audiences whatever their needs.
Of course you wouldn’t want to leave or look away from Nellis’ performance. As Kelly Nellis’ isn’t afraid to portray her as awkward and it felt like a convincing and kind characterisation of someone on the spectrum, it would be easy to go down the Rainman route but instead Kelly shows humour and awareness, not only of herself but other people. Depictions of female autistic characters are rare and I liked aspects of her character that portrayed her as an adult (her sexuality, for example) in a world that treats her as a child. The relationship with her father as he became ill felt very realistic. An understanding that he was ill (because she has read up on the internet) but this sense of inconvenience, that her life will change forever but not understanding the emotional impact.
As a performer Nellis’ not on presented Kelly as a well-rounded character but the characters in her life; from the well-meaning but irritating neighbour Margot, to her new friend Maisie and the characters that visit her town to play in the tournament to her mother, whose quiet dignity leads to a better understanding of her father.
Glitch is by far one of the highlights of the Festival.
Glitch continues 14-15 March https://vaultfestival.com/whats-on/glitch/