Writer: Laura Shoebottom
Director: Liam Ashmead
Reviewer: Karl O’Doherty
Fun, funny and cutting – Laura Shoebottom’s self-penned one hour, one woman monologue show is a smart look at anxiety, bullying, work and self-confidence. Covering abandonment, loneliness and, worst of all, a team-building weekend away with work Shoebottom (as Jenna) takes us inside the perspective of someone who feels trapped and worthless in their personal and professional lives – a familiar feeling to everyone although here it’s a deeply ingrained way of life, not a bad monday morning commute.
As the audience, we take the role of confessor, sometimes standing in for the therapist Jenna sees to help control her issues. It’s an interesting effect – as a theatre audience we look for movement and progress but as humans we can understand that this is not something that can be resolved easily or with much poetry. While it’s very understandable to focus on the experience of the individual, the use of one key theme throughout does start to make the material, even if the words are different, sound repetitive. It would be easy to start to dislike Jenna and dismiss her anxiety problems as a litany of “poor me” complaints, and it does flag a little during descriptions of interaction with a work colleague Trish. However, recognition of this insular viewpoint from the speaker and her attempts to overcome it – providing a satisfying and nuanced ending – are warming.
It’s great to see key mental health topics being subjected to examination in an intimate and relatable a way as this. No one is without an internal monologue focused on themselves, magnifying each negative moment and practicing conversations and quips in case someone asks us the questions we know will never come. Externalising that, and making it a coherent hour that brings in a message as well as entertainment should be counted a success.
Runs until 16 August 2019 | Image: Contributed