Bit of Sunshine
Backstage Theatre Mountview
Reviewed – 9th July 2019
“a tale full of drama that entirely lacked dramatic impact“
Bit of Sunshine is a one-woman show written by and starring Nicole Zweiback. Zweibeck is Kira, a young woman still struggling with bulimia, having been orphaned at a young age and brought up by her sister. The monologue jumps between the past and the present, and we learn of Kira’s life as a little girl, her relationship with boyfriend Jason, her ejection from work and her time in an eating disorder clinic.
Much of the detail in the writing is horrific, and yet the audience remained at an emotional distance from Kira and it was, ultimately, a tale full of drama that entirely lacked dramatic impact. For this kind of confessional-style piece to work, the audience needs either to feel a lot, or learn a lot; preferably both. In this case, there was nothing new to learn about this dreadful condition, and we left the theatre unmoved. This was partly to do with a lot of well worn phrases in the writing, and a lot to do with the fact that the unique qualities that theatre can bring to narrative weren’t harnessed.
So much could have been added here with a bolder and less literal approach. All the creative and driven young people involved would benefit by absorbing the work of companies like Frantic Assembly and Complicite, by the work currently being shown at The Yard, by directors like Ned Bennett and Sara Joyce, who get to the emotional meaning of text through exploding it from underneath. Words alone aren’t enough to help an audience connect with the ugliness and pain of bulimia; take us there with the tools of theatre – movement, light and sound.
All of this young team are currently in training, and this is the time to experiment. Be bold. Fail big. And learn stuff along the way. This production played it safe and was the poorer for it. It takes more to create atmosphere than a smoke machine.
Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw
Bit of Sunshine
Backstage Theatre Mountview until 13th July as part of Catalyst Festival
King’s Head Theatre
Opening Night – 26th June 2017
“Attic is an emotional tennis match, a back and forth between a deep love and an intense loathing”
No one can deny that human relationships can be complex, often unconventional and sometimes dangerous. This work, written by Meriel Hinsching, explores the fractious and fragile way in which two people can’t be with or without each other.
From the very first scene, it is apparent that our characters share a lot of history as they each perform their soliloquy full of longing and reminiscence. However, only fragments of information are relayed to the audience – why did their relationship fall apart? What brought them back together again? Can they make this work somehow?
Ed Theakston (award winning director, Best Play award for Bit of Sunshine, LOST Theatre Festival 2016 & Theatre503) has created such a tense atmosphere, which leaves us on the edge of our seats, and yet there are still moments of humour, which break through in the most refreshing way. Sharing a sneaky bottle of whiskey, tripping over their jeans in an attempt to get out of them, acting like a couple of teenagers, reliving carefree days.
These moments are suddenly juxtaposed with erratic episodes, often triggered by Leonie (played by Phoebe Stapleton) who is seemingly unable to stay within the confines of happiness and begins to question everything all over again.
Hinsching wants the audience to ponder over this because haven’t we all been there at one time or another? Floating along in a bubble of happiness but so afraid that the whole thing may come crashing down, so we retreat back into our safety net?
Attic is an emotional tennis match, a back and forth between a deep love and an intense loathing. The real darkness to the play is the connotations of the concept of death, from Leonie threatening to fall from the open window, to her screaming at Bay (Connor Harris) to make her feel ‘more alive’ – are they so tormented by their individual lives? Is the idea of a life together absolute heaven or sheer hell?
In Attic, this changes from one moment to the next.
Reviewed by Stephanie Legg
is at the King’s Head Theatre for a further two performances on 2nd and 3rd July