Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model

Photo by Jassy Earl

Originally written for The Public Reviews

Brutally endearing (in the least twee sense of the latter) feels the most appropriate term for this production, with its playful tongue twister of a title and alternately heartwearming and heartwrenching helter skelter through modern aunthood.

A forceful forthrightness has always been integral to Kimmings’ work, but Credible sees it turned not just inwardly on herself and her own life but on that of her nine year old niece Taylor.

Tired of, and not a little angry at, the role models offered to Taylor, Kimmings set out with her niece to create a nine year old’s idea of the perfect 21st century role model. Catherine Bennett (the result; played by Kimmings in a corkscrew curl wig) is ‘an ordinary lady’; a paleontologist with a penchant for tuna pasta and a proofreader boyfriend called Matthew. Despite being a pop star, she is about as far from Jessie J as you could imagine and more likely to teach you an interpretive hand dance than gyrate around the stage. Catherine Bennett has been visiting schools with Taylor, speaking to young women about their bodies, feminism and funny shaped vegetables. Credible, it follows, is just one part of a multi-platform attempt to change the world a little bit for the better.

Kimmings herself sparks with energy; one minute dressed like Joan of Arc, the next a Katy Perry backing dancer. She refuses to fixate on an ideal aspect of womanhood, instead emulating the kind of role model that Taylor has chosen for herself, while also exploring her own conflicting ideals of the kind of aunt she should be to her niece. In a departure from a lot of work based around young women, we never hear that ‘women should’ or even ‘children should’.

She diffuses moments of what could be painful introspection with a refusal to take herself too seriously and knowing deconstruction of her own theatrical devices, built out of the genuine desire to create a show that Taylor can enjoy being a part of. Far from a prop, Taylor is a collaborator in the truest sense of the word.

What could have been a dry and unremarkable “won’t someone please think of the children?” rant becomes a journey as memorable, heartwarming and often bonkers as that of tweenhood itself. Existential dinosaur matters are, it turns out, painfully relevant and the transience of childhood is all too sharply marked by Kimmings’ own sober observation that, even in the time they have spent creating the show together, Taylor has already begun to grow away from the idea of Catherine Bennett.

Credible turns convention on its head, making the adult world of well intentioned vegetable purchases and ‘being quiet’ faintly ridiculous and treating Taylor, and the world around her, with sincerity, warmth and the utmost respect. It is difficult to imagine seeing anything quite like it again, and wholly worthwhile making the most of this opportunity to do so.

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