THE PLEA TO the universe to allow you to “fuck up” your own life, is a provocative and tearful one, in the words of ‘Claire’, played by Siobhan Athwal in the twelfth episode of the Ink Jockey podcast series The End of the Line, directed by Mark Heywood.
Premised on the toilet as a sanctuary during a blind date, it evokes an earlier episode of this podcast series, but rather than the boy absconding, here we find Claire, panicking beautifully. She’s taken a leap or six beyond the awkward ‘how-do-you-do’s’ of a blind date and is examining its underpinned values that bounce back on the strict (yet lovingly unspoken) parameters of her traditional upbringing.
And if you’re a girl child who has been raised in a similar context, it’s a situation which will resonate with all the reasons you might have absconded from the system or had years of therapy. Propagation of the species is the quiet imperative injected into the raising of any daughter in a small society. And Claire is no different. Okay, maybe she’s slightly different. She is fierce enough to buck the trend of being ‘feminine’ in her chosen garb. And she’s savvy enough to say ‘No!’
The loudness of her ‘no’, however, reverberates politely through the tiled premises of the restaurant’s toilet as she works through all the issues and wordlessly contemplates escaping out of a toilet window. No, she doesn’t, but the fury and impetuousness are there.
It’s a moment of lavatorial clarity as her date, a perfectly nice Indian man, picks through his soup crutons after having refused to share French fries with her (but has designs on sharing her life). It’s a lovely addition to the series, which offers a gloss on the girl who fits all the broad parameters, but actually needs the space and time to honour her own sacred self.
Ashwal is delightful, but a little scary in her rage against her mum’s greed for more grandchildren and how not a thought is tossed in her direction as to what she really wants. And the ultimate difference between existing and living.
“Claire” is the 12th episode in series 1 of the project. Series 2 is available online and reviews of the individual series will appear on this site from next week.
- Claire is a story written and directed by Mark Heywood. It features technical input by Hetty Hodgson. With music by Daisy Chute and Cerian of the Heard Collective, it is performed by Siobhan Athwal and it is the twelfth in a series of podcasts produced by Ink Jockey collectively called The End of the Line.