Ambition, audacity and well-crafted comedy

By Myron My

Everyone has had an actor, singer, athlete or celebrity of some sort that they idolised and dreamed of becoming. As people get older they generally grow out of the fantasy, but not 17-year old Alexandra Keddie. She maintains she wants to be Hollywood actor, Meryl Streep – or at least be just like her. Welcome to her new cabaret I See Me; and Meryl Streep.

I See Me; and Meryl Streep

The stage immediately reminded me of when I was a teenager (and my own bedroom was adorned with posters, and memorabilia from Buffy the Vampire Slayer). On display, Keddie appears to have copies of every single film Streep has ever made, photos and posters, cushions and clothing with her face printed on them, and a signed framed image of her too. The finishing touch is the “Mountain to Meryl” chart, where she has a picture of Meryl’s face at the top of a mountain and her own at the bottom. Each time Keddie’s character perfects a new skill or accent in her cabaret quest, she climbs up the mountain, inching closer to her idol.

At one point in her tale, Keddie takes us through “The Many Voices of Meryl” and this is by far the highlight of the show. She is not only performing in a complex variety of accents, but she is performing them as Streep would, and it is truly uncanny how much she sounds like the three-time Oscar winner. When she reenacts her Margaret Thatcher and Miranda Priestley, you could close your eyes and swear you were listening to The Iron Lady and The Devil Wears Prada. The simple costume choices used for each role are also highly effective.

When not being brilliant in her mimicry of Streep, Keddie convincingly toes the fine line between portraying an innocent fan and an obsessed fanatic. Sure, the glint in her eyes and the way she speaks when talking about Streep may sometimes scream ‘stalker!’, but at the same time, the desperation in her voice and the desire to be successful add the nuances of an upcoming artist who has simply found someone who truly inspires her. There were a couple of moments though, where I felt unsure as to what Keddie was trying to say, more so with the inclusion of material about John Cazale. Up until that point I had not known who this person was or that he was such an influence on Streep, and unfortunately I felt the link between them wasn’t made very clear.

Keddie is either legitimately a huge fan of Streep herself or has spent much time researching her in order to be able to weave anecdotal stories of Streep and her Hollywood career together so seamlessly overall  in I See Me; and Meryl Streep. This is an extremely clever and humorous show not only delving into the world of fandom but also offering some insight into the life of a young woman who has a dream to be ‘someone’. And after all, what is so wrong with that?

The premiere season of I See Me; and Meryl Streep was performed at The Butterfly Club, 3 – 7 June 2015.