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Breaking Up With Reality – Living Record Festival

Reviewer: Richard Maguire

Writer: Eden Harbud

Writer and performer Eden Harbud warns us that some listeners will see his monologue as fluff. But he’s not deterred, suggesting that even fluff has a way of sticking to people’s jumpers, and if these people carry away any part of his show with them then it’s all for the good. But because his show is about lockdown isolation, surely nearly every listener will be affected by it in some way.

Harbud compares lockdown to the end of a relationship. Normality has sent him a Dear John letter and Breaking Up With Reality is Harbud’s reply. Harbud, in a steady affable voice, tells the listener that he sees reality as a rabbit, The Reality Rabbit, but one day some time ago he suspected that the rabbit was seeing someone else. Eventually the rabbit goes, texting BRB, and leaves behind ‘a vacuum of chaos and silence’.

But the rabbit doesn’t come right back, and one day Harbud finds an origami rabbit on his bookshelf. Could the Reality Rabbit have left it? For some listeners, Harbud’s gentle story may be too close to the bone, especially when he talks about hours wasted lying in bed, or standing in the shower. With normal life gone at the moment, perhaps we are grieving in some way, and because we don’t know when life will resume, this process is more complicated than a break-up with a partner.

Harbud’ story is intriguing especially when he gets a new text from an unknown number. The message is from someone with the initials NN. Harbud is not sure whether it’s sign that reality is returning. However, as the monologue winds to an end – it only lasts 25 minutes – the narrative becomes looser and his musings wander into self-help territory. And while there is nothing wrong with that, the story is more successful when it’s a parable. Harbud perhaps breaks the story’s illusion unnecessarily.

As lockdown threatens to last until the summer, Breaking Up With Reality may offer catharsis, and solace. Harbud’s monologue is deftly put together with some sympathetic music and an evocative sound design. At one point we can hear the sounds of how life used to be – an outside bar with muffled chatter, the grumble of distant traffic – and this show captures the ache we have for reality to return.

Runs here until 22 February 2021

The Living Record Festival runs here from 17 January to 22 February 2021 

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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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