February Face –Old Red Lion Theatre, London

Reviewer: Jonathan Marshall

Writer: Keelan Kember

Director: Monica Cox

Ed is young and single. He enjoys hookups without commitments, bantering with the boys and having a good laugh. Like many men, though, a lot of the bravado is a front to conceal his anxiety. When he meets Lily, the potential for his first serious relationship is there. That is until Ed reverts to form and self-sabotages, permitting his inner monologue to consume him with self-doubt and self-deprecation.

He is of the mindset that being a man means bottling things up and never revealing one’s fears or vulnerabilities. He grew up in a household where a stiff upper lip and ‘keep calm and carry on’ outlook prevailed. He is sceptical about the benefits of therapy and refuses to embrace the idea of seeking support. Instead, he carries his pain internally just as his father did before him.

It might all sound rather bleak but a carefully crafted script with smatterings of well-placed humour balances things out. This is a timely character study that examines the high levels of anxiety that are symptomatic of the Millennial Generation’s collective stress. We all know just how big of a problem mental health is particularly in younger people and it’s commendable that writer and performer Keelan Kember tackles this in his own unique style.

He is well supported by Olivia Mills who injects warmth into the slightly under-written character of Lily, who mirrors many of Ed’s inner turmoil along with her own fragilities. Kember has created two believable characters we can invest in with the performers elevating what is already a well-written script. At 70- minutes a fair amount is packed in here, although the pace is not always consistent. Brimming with heart and humour while often suitably moving, February Face succeeds in continuing the conversation around mental health and tapping into the Millennial zeitgeist. Deserving of a longer run, it promises exciting things to come for this young writer/performer.

Runs until 18 November 2023

The Reviews Hub Score

Timely character study

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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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