Review: Tumours at Assembly Rooms
3★★★

Have you ever wondered what’d you’d eat for your final meal? Jay has, and it’s Wotsits and Wagon Wheels – the jammy ones, obviously. Because Jay is sure she’s going to die before she turns 28, like Kurt Cobain did.

After her mum died from cancer, Jay believes it’s only a matter of time before she’s next, too. It’s a rebellion against life filled with the usual sex and Nirvana, as well as the less usual smear tests and vintage VHS pornos. 
It’s not often you get a play about a premature death fantasy, and even rarer that you get one as honest and funny as Tumours. Jay is brash but loveable, crashing through her teenage years and into her twenties with a ‘fuck you’ to her dad and a calm indifference about her impending death. Played with wide-eyed sincerity by Ashleigh Laurence, who also wrote the play, there’s an emotional vulnerability to Jay that is immediately relatable.

Laurence brings a wonderful physicality to the awkward/uncomfortable/icky moments of cervical screenings, sex and creepy old men. The writing is ballsy and sharp, switching between Jay talking to the crowd on her fantasies about being anorexically thin to her Matilda-like revenge when she super-glued her dad to a chair.

The production itself needs a bit more oomph: the soundtrack is fun but hesitant and it feels like an unwanted departure when other characters are brought into the story through voiceovers, the simple punchy appeal of Jay’s lone voice suddenly missing. Jay’s dysfunction is heartbreakingly real however, and it’s a hard task not be captivated by the charismatic, mouthy young woman with a mortality complex. Like Jay, Tumours is rough around the edges but its self-assured raw humour holds up to become something truly life-affirming.

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