You Fancy Yourself, currently onstage at the Great Canadian Theatre Company, is endearing and entertaining. Transported back to the 1950s, when Buddy Holly was on the charts and the strap at school was still acceptable, the audience follows the trials and tribulations of Elsa, a young immigrant girl from Iceland, as she tries to adapt to her new life in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The audience is drawn into her world, witnessing her innocence and creative imagination. Inspired by her own experiences, playwright and actor Maja Ardal creates a character who, even though just a child, is someone to whom everyone can relate. Through Elsa, the audience relives the angst of elementary school and the intricacies, flightiness and somewhat cruel nature of the childhood social scene. Ardal cleverly explores it all with humor and tenderness.
In this one-woman play, Ardal successfully navigates from character to character in an engaging and smooth manner. At no point is the character transition choppy or confusing. One minute Ardal is the hard-lined, severe grade school teacher Miss Campbell, and the next she is a snotty-nosed socially-awkward kid. As for Elsa, she is loveable, sweet and a character for whom you cheer from beginning to end. Ardal won the 2009 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female for good reason. She is fantastic.
Ardal has written a sequel to You Fancy Yourself, set in 1962, when Elsa is a teenager. Hope to see that one at the GCTC someday.
You Fancy Yourself runs until November 3rd at the Great Canadian Theatre Company
Photo credit: Andrew Alexander