Creator: Jane Postlethwaite
Reviewer: Simon Topping
As Last Night of the Circus begins the audience are treated to some fabulous images of vintage circus performers, leading us to wonder what the enigmatic title of the show could mean we are about to witness. Just as this thought passes through the mind Jane Postlethwaite happily appears spotlit on stage, bedecked in a shiny circus outfit and ready to get up to mischief.
After a brief preamble, with Postlethwaite delightfully riffing with the crowd, she lets us into a little secret. “Sorry”, she says, “I have tricked you all into a show about mental health! No refunds, the doors are locked!” What follows is a frank, brave and funny show about the performers’ life over the past few years; its breakdowns, tragedies, one truly awful ex-boyfriend and hopeful ascendance into the acceptance of the joy of life, taken one day at a time.
Postlethwaite has bi-polar and on medication struggles with her energy and memory. She uses cards to prompt her in the show, this in no way distracts but highlights some of the issues surrounding the management of the illness. She is a charismatic entertainer and weaves the dark and light mood in a magical way.
As the show develops we are shown snippets of the comedian’s inner workings; a hilarious dance of anxiety, a slide show about what success means and the chucklesome comparison between a tiger and intrusive thoughts.
Creating a comedy piece about serious issues in mental health can be a gamble, but, in the hands of Postlethwaite, the piece soars like a trapeze artist in flight. This is a touching, honest, refreshing comedy that encourages its audience to laugh at the darkness and firmly states: together we are stronger; an uplifting and uproarious show.
Reviewed on 19th May
Image | Andy Hollingworth