Female rage comes in many forms. For the protagonist, GG, in Naomi Sheldon’s one-woman monologue Good Girl, it first manifests as a sit-down protest at the bottom of a swimming pool, mid-way through the under-11s mixed relay.
It’s these gloriously exact anecdotal details that make Sheldon’s work both painful and hilarious to witness. Her evocation of 1990s adolescence is crammed with pop-culture references – platform trainers, bubble watches, cult film The Craft – that are as briefly loved and disposed of as the crumpled clothes in a teenager’s closet.
The cleverness of Good Girl is that it never explicitly names what GG goes through. When she sinks to the bottom of the pool, there’s no mention of this as a response to the ‘double standard’ that treats her differently to the boy she’s been caught with in the changing rooms.
Likewise, the male behaviour she negotiates on public transport isn’t called a ‘micro-aggression’, but contemporary feminist interpretations like these always feel a hair’s breadth away from being said.
Instead, Sheldon’s story hits the hardest when at its most personal. Female experiences fuse with more universal ones, as the story morphs into a meditation on what it means to feel too much – to be “too intense” – and the short-term antidote of self-enforced numbness.
Palpably warm and filled with a brilliantly British humour taking in everything from Henry VIII to Ann Summers, the voice in Good Girl is insightful, honest and generous. The story of someone who feels things exactly the right amount.