Any Day Now – Etcetera Theatre, London

Reviewer: John Cutler

Writer and Director: Martia Dimmer

Evie, the protagonist of Martia Dimmer’s debut one-woman show Any Day Now, ruminates about death, hers and other people’s, at least 15 times a day. She describes herself as “10/10 on the completely insane scale”. The irony is that Evie is only 23 and absolutely brims with manifest zest for life. Her irrational and persistent dread of mortality, or at least the process of dying, is a real-life debilitating mental health condition called thanatophobia. Dimmer’s 60-minute comedy offers up a witty, thoughtful exploration of the disorder. One which broadens into a gently wistful contemplation on the meaning of life.

Evie eschews narrative in favour of a series of conversational vignettes with variously, herself, god (or Jesus, she worries about “telling them apart” on arrival in heaven), her mother, her psychotherapist, a childhood boyfriend, and terminally ill patrons of her “death doula” cousin’s robustly named “Death Café”.

This is potentially tough going for comedy but Evie’s disarmingly directness, deadpan humour, talent for song, and determination to face her fears head-on is a delight. Think Bridget Jones, if Bridget was obsessed with being eaten alive by sharks and planning her own glitter-strewn funeral, rather than dieting, romance, and alcohol consumption. The chaotic journey of self-discovery of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s protagonist in Fleabag is perhaps another obvious comic reference point.

Evie’s relationship with her “thick as shit” teenage boyfriend Ben carries the most pathos. He listens patiently to her intense irrational fears of a shark attack in a Centre Parcs-style wave pool and being stalked by a serial killer in the gondola of a carnival Ferris wheel. “It is not simple, is it Ben?” she tells him by way of exculpation. But to Ben, who has a habit of walking into glass doors, it is – all Evie needs is love and a listener.

When Ben himself succumbs to a freak carnival accident it is down to blunt-talking Evie to speak at his memorial. “I’ve got to stop turning eulogies into inner monologues”, she says in a characteristically candid post-funeral moment of self-introspection. Her mother’s sage advice is to stop “confusing Miley Cyrus with Buddha”.

Dimmer adds momentum to the piece with a series of tunes. A warbling rendition of Cher’s Believe set to the twang of a ukulele sums up the general tone: kind, funny, and self-deprecating. “We think infinity is made for us” Evie muses. But of course, it is not. If there is a conclusion to Any Day Now it is that in each other’s absence, life and death are meaningless. Not a ground-breaking thought perhaps but one delivered here with engaging comic effect.

Runs until 14 June 2024

The Reviews Hub Score

Comic contemplation on death.

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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