Writers: David Shopland and Shereen Roushbaiani
Director: David Shopland
Britney Spears was a huge international superstar by the time she was sixteen. She’d had a rollercoaster childhood, rocketing to fame. Now the Princess of Pop is in need of help – and Jean from Cirencester is convinced that she is the person to help her.
Saving Britney gives us a look at celebrity culture through the eyes of a Millennial. Jean (Shereen Roushbaiani) is a life-long fan. She owns the albums, she has the photos, the magazine articles. She’s an admin on the Britney Spears fans Facebook page. It all started when she was young, heard Baby One More Time and started noticing similarities. They share the same birthday, they share a name… similarities that become increasingly obscure as she desperately looks for connections.
Over the course of an hour, Roushbaiani leads us through the story of Jean’s life. Dealing with the breakup of her parents’ marriage, her first sexual encounter, experiencing loss. It’s a roller-coaster of emotions for Jean, and through all of them, Britney is with her – at least in her mind. However she is feeling, she manages to find a track, a snippet of lyric, that reflects it. That leads to the question – to what extent does this sort of obsession create a dependency, and when does it become harmful?
Roushbaiani displays a good level of energy throughout her hour on stage and tells the story well – she’s very believable, to the extent that it’s hard to tell if these are Jean’s experiences or Roushbaiani’s own. She makes good eye contact, and in the cosy space at the Old Joint Stock, it feels as though she is talking directly to you, telling you her tale. The storyline flows well with a simple set that helps to set the tone. Roushbaiani knows how to deliver this sort of material, and it would be interesting to see her in other pieces.
With adult content, this is not one for the younger audience member. Although there is a lesson about celebrity obsession here for everyone, this is perhaps more a piece for the diehard Britney Spears fans who can relate to the references. An interesting night out – and even informative for those who aren’t too familiar with Britney Spears – but not one that is likely to be particularly memorable.
Runs until 15 January 2022 and touring