Destiny review – captivating solo show stares down the darkness

Destiny is preparing for a big Thursday night out in rural Wiltshire. She leads us to her local nightclub, Karma, where the drinks are 50p and the evening will ultimately go sour, setting her on a path of desperate longing for love.

Though her existence is littered with misfortune – including distant parenting, limited finances and sexual abuse – she is full of hope. She has faith that things will get better. She dreams of showbiz and of being an MTV Base backing dancer. Her fantasies are long-lasting, her resilience inbuilt.

It is difficult not to warm to Destiny, written and performed by Florence Espeut-Nickless in a monologue directed by Jesse Jones, presented online for the Edinburgh fringe and supported by the Pleasance and by Bristol Old Vic’s Ferment programme. Despite her surface-level confidence, there is a naivety to her storytelling. As she repeatedly makes decisions that end in inevitable pain, she manages to find humour in her darkest moments – and you can’t help but laugh along, even if it’s at her fantasies about a TV presenter while she is having sex with a man much older than her.

The spare set, designed by Joseff Harris, features quick-changing lights and a single chair: we’re almost completely reliant on Espeut-Nickless’s ability to command the room. This filmed version is performed to a live audience, and Destiny’s spirit is engaging early on.

If her story is one we’ve probably heard before, it doesn’t make it any less authentic – and it is captivatingly told in the West Country vernacular of Destiny’s community. With endearing personality, she does them proud.

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