American playwright, Paula Vogel’s, Pulitzer Prize winning play How I Learned to Drive explores the troubled relationship between a young girl and her Uncle Peck (William Ellis
), combining chaotic theatricality, pathos, psychology and heartbreak. Showing at The Little, Southwark Playhouse, this raw and humorous revival, directed by Jack Sain, explores the frustrations of small town living. Morality takes a back seat as Uncle Peck begins to coax the play’s impressionable young protagonist, nicknamed Li’l Bit and played by Olivia Poulet, in this provocative and discomforting love story.

how i learned to drive southwark playhouse

Image credit: Jack Sain

The text explores physical disassociation and issues of sexuality as Li’l Bit learns to leave her abused body and live in her head. Posing questions of bodily ownership, emotional changes in the teenage psyche, the physical changes in a woman’s body, and the turbulent experience of her adolescent years, Li’l Bit’s adult self is pieced together. Despite its serious subject matter, the majority of the play’s text, or at least its delivery, is witty, sharp and awash with double entendres. Meanwhile, Li’l Bit’s overbearing relations and schoolmates, played by trio of talents Bryony Corrigan,
 Holly Hayes and 
Joshua Miles
, serve up a cacophony of playground chants, sound effects and simulations.

How I learned to drive southwark playhouse theatre

Image credit: Jack Sain

Vogel’s writing explores juvenile thinking, while frisky grandpas, devil-fearing grandmothers and questionably progressive mothers, awaken the audience to Li’l Bit’s happy, if somewhat perturbed, family life. Amidst advice on sex, bras and matters of the heart, “A Mother’s Guide to Social Drinking” proves a most informative read. Navigating her own story, Li’l Bit chooses what you see, disclosing certain life events in a particular order. It’s her life; she’s in the driver seat. But in the rear view mirror, over her shoulder, the memory of Uncle Peck’s abuse forever clouds her vision.

how i learned to drive southwark playhouse theatre

Image credit: Jack Sain

Until 14th March,