Andi Snelling is putting it all on the line. Starting from her very first entry at the age of nine, she shares excerpts from her personal diaries, spanning twenty-four years and five thousand pages. Verbatim.
#DearDiary is a sweet take on the coming-of-age genre. Merging several forms of media, Snelling draws in storytelling, playful clowning, AV and recorded messages from the past. She shares the moments of her life that stick out for her, from her early teens to years spent in France, Germany and the UK, and then back home in Melbourne.
Snelling questions at the start of the show, “Who’d want to read a diary about someone like myself?” She cuts straight to the anxiety of inadequacy, questioning, “Is my life enough?”
We all tread that tense line between vanity and self-doubt. It must have been such a challenge to read through all of those pages (#howembarrassment) and pick out the gems that tell a story that Snelling felt was worth sharing. This story is not always seamless – but then again, that’s life.
The show also questions what a diary is – is it a channel for processing emotions, a record of events, a close friend, a mirror, or simply a “way to exist beyond our heart and head”?
Between acts, we're launched into game show mode, which brings some lightness to the show before we dive into the more difficult revelations. Extending this section would have been worthwhile, to get more laughs and mileage from a fortune-cookie-esque audience involvement exercise.
Stage design, props and costuming are spot on. The stacks of old suitcases, representing the hidden spaces in our minds and the baggage of our past, also bring a nice structure to the space. The PowerPoint tucked up in the corner adds more of a distraction than anything else. Using hashtags seems odd, particularly when Snelling is harking back to the pre-social media years.
#DearDiary is charming and uncomplicated. There is plenty to connect with for all of us, even more so for women of a similar vintage as Snelling. But the real beauty of this show is that it simply presents the source material – the insightful but inelegant musings of a young woman in her diary – without attempting to force an analysis or attach a higher meaning.