DramaLondonReview

She – Drayton Arms Theatre, London

Reviewer: Sonny Waheed

Writer and Director – Lee James Broadwood

Love is a powerful emotion and, for some, can be overwhelming. In She, we’re confronted with a lady thrown into a deep and dark depression following the break up of a love that seems to have completely consumed her.

Sitting in an unmade bed, strewn with used and torn tissues, she spends her time staring into a void replaying parts of her relationship and trying to come to terms with how and why things ended and how she can snatch just a few more moments with her former lover.

Presented as an extended monologue that covers an undefined period of time (days, possibly weeks), ‘she’ (Penny Tomai) verbalises her thoughts and actions. What starts as a woman in emotional pain bemoaning the end of a relationship escalates through self-blame to self-harm and ultimately suicidal tendencies.

She is an unflinching study of the effects of deep depression, how small thoughts and acts fester and increase until the person is completely devoid of their former self.

Penny Tomai delivers a raw and subtle performance that, whilst possible, never veers into the hysteria that such anger could bring. Her delivery is soft, whisper-like, and her anger is contained, rarely verbally expressed. She never looks at the audience, instead into an empty spot at the foot of her bed, enforcing the fact that she is talking to no one and is just dealing with her own emotions. Her performance is simple, controlled but very powerful.

Lee James Broadwood’s design and direction puts the focus resolutely on ‘she’. Tomai and her bed are illuminated by a spotlight with the rest of the stage in complete darkness. There’s nowhere else for the audience to look at and nothing else for them to hear apart from her self-destroying thoughts. You are transfixed by her, not really wanting to hear what she’s saying, but compelled to engage nevertheless.

This is not a subject matter that will appeal to most, but it is a show that deserves to be watched. Depression affects a significant portion of the population and whilst most do not end up in the depths of ‘she’, this is a stark and necessary reminder of its power and impact.

Runs until 22 April 2024

The Reviews Hub Score

Raw and impactful

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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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