Reviewed – 1st December 2019
“an engaging and enjoyable show”
Gobby: Tending to talk too loudly and in a blunt or opinionated way.
Bri has always talked too much and too loudly. She’s been nicknamed ‘Gobby’ for as long as she can remember. But at some point, she stopped letting it out and instead, kept it in. Writer and performer, Jodie Irvine, brings her own wit and style to broach the rarely-voiced subject of gaslighting and its psychologically depletive consequences. The stage festooned with bunting, balloons and paper cups, Bri invites us to join her on a tour of five parties over two years which mark her healing journey from the repercussions of a toxic relationship.
Imaginatively and resourcefully, with just a handful of accents and plenty of party paraphernalia, Irvine conjures up a colourful cast of friends and acquaintances and some original accessories – a fun hat cocktail shaker, talking balloon heads, a party blower moustache and poppers which not only serve to vent anger but also punctuate the five part(ie)s of her story. She creates an assortment of wonderfully vivid roles including posh ex-flatmate Anna, drunk party girl, uncaring crush Matt and new best friend Beth (hard not to visualise Gavin and Stacey’s Nessa there). The use of music and lighting – clearly a given at parties – adds shape to the narrative while doing some creative underlining of mood.
The show touches on several topics which are often hard to discuss. Why do we need to be noticed, accepted or care what people think of us? Why can’t we be happy as we are?
Bri seems to mourn her ‘loud’ assertiveness which has been undermined by her previous boyfriend; no one close to her realised and she lost the confidence to speak out and ask for help. So how did she have the strength to leave? That would be interesting to develop. She addresses the effects of emotional abuse and Bri’s recovery but how she became submissive is left mainly to our imagination. And although the discovery of ‘self-awareness’ is Bri’s lightbulb moment, her speech about blame and gratitude is a deeper, more involved view with a thoughtful and positive conclusion. It goes without saying that it is beneficial to start any conversation which can throw a lifeline of recognition and understanding.
Irvine’s writing encompasses the awkward and painful reality of all types of relationships with anecdotal humour. Her honest and naturally comic acting combined with Rosie Snell’s meticulous direction produces an engaging and enjoyable show even though, when it digs into the darker areas, the message becomes blurred.
Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington
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