GM Fringe: Oh Dear Diary

What would you say to yourself at age 12? Or 13? Or even 16?

Would you have advised on relationships? Sex? Booze? Or tell yourself that the crush you had on your maths teacher really isn’t going to lead anywhere but a slightly better grade in GCSE because you were trying hard to show off your algebraic skills and learnt something useful for the exam?

(NB, not personal experience, my own maths teacher was a divorcee who would have loved to get her hands on my (at the time) very married dad. Awkward). 

Whilst many of my friends kept a diary, I was a little lax. I tried – spent money on beautiful diaries, journals, with locks, without locks. Then intention was there, I just never actually wrote anything down. Or I’d manage about three day’s worth, figure that my life was dull and boring, and shove it in a drawer to be forgotten about.

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But there are those who wrote – daily, faithfully, consistently, and that’s where this fantastic production curated by Emma Wright and Tess Simpson comes in. Oh Dear Diary formed part of the Great Manchester Fringe Festival and is probably my absolute favourite event so far. 

A series of excerpts, read by the diary owners themselves, charts their lives through angst ridden crushes, interesting clothing choices, family holidays and school-yard spats. 

There were even one or two scarily familiar scenarios, and given that one of the readers in particular mentioned my home town (and we are a similar age) my heart leapt to my throat on more than one occasion. I was relieved to realise we were probably a year or two apart at school.

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I think. 

Close to the bone, cringe humour, that is filled with nostalgia for a place and time that you’ve long confined to the past, the concept is brilliant and apparently came about Emma and her friends read extracts to each other (I suspect there may have been a glass of wine or two involved), and it was agreed that these should be shared with a wider group of people.

In the meantime, Tess had created the blog – If Destroyed, Still True, and the two ladies now collaborate. IDST quite rightly won an award just before the first Oh Dear Diary performance, and I must admit, has long been on my addictive reading list for quite a while. 

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The show was absolutely brilliant and both myself and my date left with big grins on our faces, and almost wished we had our own diaries to share. Almost.

It’s the realisation that we were all the same, all figuring out our place in the world, all obsessed with the same crushes, loves and loathes.

Though there are no future dates on the calendar for Oh Dear Diary, there are still plenty of events on as part of Greater Manchester Fringe.

Based on my experiences so far, I can’t recommend it enough. 

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