Writers and Directors: Shea Wojtus and Nora Smith
Reviewer: Fergus Morgan
MorbidAbnormalMe isn’t exactly an original piece of theatre. As a highly physical, mildly comic, two-person investigation into a common psychological phobia performed in the basement of a slightly seedy bar, it’s pretty damned typical for Fringe productions. But it’s neat and its polished and it’s got heartso it ultimately deserves praise.
This particular two-person investigation into a common psychological phobia is performed by Shea Wojtus and Nora Smith, and it deals with the former’s debilitating, lifelong (until recently) anxiety over death, in all its forms. From hypochondria so severe it makes Howard Hughes look like Bear Grylls, to a fear of needles so strong it makes Ross Geller look like Renton from Trainspotting, phobias and fears – primarily of dying – have dogged Mojtus ever since she was little. In Morbid Abnormal Me, together with Smith, both resplendent in bright red jumpsuits, she documents some of them, sprinkles in a few amusing anecdotes, and searches for both their origin and a solution.
There are some touching moments – like the recorded comments of Wojtus’ family on her condition being piped over the sound system – and some funny moments – like a mock argument between Wojtus and Smith over their differing levels of hygiene. There are even some moments that are both: a silent routine in which Mojtus tries to extricate herself from Smith’s sleepy affection is both enjoyable physical comedy and a moving display of affection.
All told, MorbidAbnormalMe is a big ragged around the edges, it could do with a bit more structure, and it ends a bit abruptly. But there are plenty of good ideas bubbling away here – not least the central triumph of friendship over fear – and both Wojtus and Smith are proficient performers. Wojtus is particularly funny, capturing an endearing anxiety through her liberal use of contorted facial expressions and her constantly squeaking voice; there is a touch of Kristen Wiig in her combination of wry self-effacement and hand-wringing exasperation.
Reviewed on 27 May 2016 | Image: Contributed