Ish… – The Roundhouse, London

Writer and Director: Georgie Jones

Reviewer: Maryam Philpott

There are plenty of things you wish you’d known as a teenager, so if you went back in time armed with the knowledge you have now you could things differently or better. We may have been clueless then, but it doesn’t mean we really know what we’re doing now. Georgie Jones one-woman show Ish…is a part love letter to her younger self and part declaration that nothing matters more than being who you are.

Working out how to become a woman is something every teenage girl must navigate, overcoming the many obstacles, peer and societal pressures in her way. In this 50-minute show, Jones leads the audience through the salient and formative moments of her young life often to hilarious, and sometimes poignant effect, all the while reminding us that we often end up far from where we started and in the post-#MeToo era things could be very different for the next generation.

Almost every moment of Ish…is set to music, each song specifically chosen for its particular resonance or beat, as thumping bass is replaced by a plethora of 90s classics evoking strong memories of first love, nights of clubbing and the lost joy of the mixed tape given to you by a random boy in the street. As Robbie Williams becomes Britney Spears and The Backstreet Boys, Jones uses our collective nostalgia to draw us into her story, reliving our own youth along with her character.

Jones’s writing is particularly engaging and filled with wonderfully evocative phrases. Describing the hilarity of preparing for a night out she cackles “we are the granddaughters of the witches you were never able to burn” and eventually “flirting like I learned to do in More” – touches of 90s life that only the initiated will recognise. And these are mixed in with illustrative recreations of the fast-talking bitchiness of the girls’ toilet, the disappointment of the sloppy first kiss that tasted like curry and the confusion of picking your first hair removal products.

The secret to Ish…is the ordinariness of the various scenarios Jones brings to life, told with a confiding warmth and openness that is refreshing and relatable. Jones isn’t afraid to mock her own experiences, recreating the deliberately awkward dance moves she once practised at home for our amusement and defining the meaning of “cool” using the beat of the current song. Ish…is a patchwork of comedy sketches that unites to form a broad-ranging and fun exploration of the nonsense and hilarity of being a teenager.

But Jones also has room for more serious comment, and moments of genuine sadness arrive with sudden sharpness. The sweetness and innocence of the character she creates makes the audience feel for her when her the boy she adored leaves her heartbroken for two years as she continues to wear his jumper while remembering how much they meant to one another. In a scene that needs further exploration and explanation, she wakes up after a party covered in bruises and unable to recall what happened to her. It’s a brief moment near the start of the play and Jones doesn’t return to the implied sexual assault which is left unresolved in her upbeat conclusion.

Behind the humorous anecdotes, ultimately Ish…is a fun, warm, witty and engaging monologue that genuinely connects with the audience, celebrating female individuality and promoting body confidence. In the final moments Jones skips to age 25 where all that teenage concern with appearance and knowing the future has long disappeared. With seven years still to cover, the one thing we do need to know is when will Jones write Part 2?

Reviewed on 18 June 2018 | Image: Contributed

Tags:Ish, Georgie Jones, Roundhouse, The Last Word Festival, London

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Witty and engaging

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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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