ReviewSouth WestSpoken WordStand Up

Identity Crisis – The Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol

Written and performed: Phina Oruche
Director: Bill Hopkinson
Reviewer: Laura Hesketh

What does identity mean? What is it like to be a woman, specifically a black woman, working in the ruthless world of media? How do our past decisions shape who we are? All of these questions form the core of Phina Oruche’s outstandingly captivating and hilarious one-woman show, Identity Crisis.

tell-us-block_editedAs the UK embarks on a post-Brexit journey and the USA is in the middle of one of history’s most controversial elections,Identity Crisis is a timely and important piece. Orchue’s energetic performance is fresh and raw as she explores the identity struggles faced by women and men, young and old, black and white in aworld where racial tension, racial division and sexism still exist.

Directed by Bill Hopkinson, she recounts key moments of her own fascinating life, from the “cows in the office” to the lousy boss, the recognisable and everyday stories are told in an animated yet relaxed manner, as if she is sharing her thoughts among friends over drinks. But this performance is not one of vanity; Oruche is self-deprecating, which creates the biggest laugh out loud moments, as she examines how truly dysfunctional life is.

The performance also explores the struggle of others as the stage becomes a bustling hub brimming with an array of identities. Oruche seamlessly transforms into nine other larger than life characters including her wonderfully overprotective mother, fellow Scouser Amy Tan, and an ‘Italian Stallion’ to name a few. Nothing less than an impressive storyteller, Oruche tackles each character with real gumption as she dissects how individuals so easily embody the image imposed upon them by others, why people strive to be the “norm” and avoid being labelled as different.

The play loses a little momentum in the middle, but the performance is undeniably a cathartic experience for the actress and the audience. Identity Crisis cleverly uses both comic and tragic stereotypes to embrace the old cliche, ‘do not judge a book by its cover’; a compelling reminder that even the emotionally detached boss is more than likely having an identity crisis.

Reviewed on 14 October 2016 | Image: Contributed

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