I Think We're Alone
I really don't want to get into reviews and the like; I'm writing about this show because I felt like I learned something really important in watching it. This isn't a review.
I go to the theatre loads and most of the time the take away is that I'm impressed with form or unique perspective or hot take or some such and as a result I think I've taken that to mean what "good theatre" is. I've been of the oppinon that "good theatre" is your truth, in a form that is you that reflects that, for a specific place to be done in a specific time. I guess I do still believe that but this play did something different in it's gesture and execution that made me feel like there is another layer to it at all well.
The play is a series of intertwining stories; a woman working in a hospice who goes on benders to escape trauma, a break up, a taxi driver with a dead wife, a dying woman, a woman with a son at Cambridge who pressures him into it and lives vicariously through his success... In watching this my first reaction was that this was a play made for me. Everything in this story is directly in my life; from my fathers death, to watching my mother cope, to medicating with drugs sex and alcohol, to being pressured to be special to make her life better (although she's not arsed she's boss), to suicidal thoughts... I was convinced this writer had seen into me and FINALLY some one was making work for me. Then it hit me that I'm not special but what is special about this play is that it taps into our universal experience of being a child, a parent, lost, dying, dealing with trauma and the dramatisation of this sporadic experiences of existing it brings us together as a community... And what fucking better time to do that than in Brexit Britain. Theatre doesn't just exist to shine spotlights on issues that needs to be addressed.. It HAS to bring us together too. We have to feel like richer humans for engaged with it. We have to feel less alone and like we need each other and we need to listen and learn and love.
What's more is that this play, and it has been wrongly critisied for this, does something else in it. The vast majority of the play is about trauma and death and letting people down... But in it there is so much LOVE and HUMOUR and JOY and COMPASSION. This is what I mean by Human Resiliance in the face of adversity. We cannot just be angry. We cannot just be sad. We have to find joy in it. This is where the hope is.
I am lucky enough to know the writer of this play a bit; it's her first full professional play that she hasn't produced herself. She's, I guess, in her 40s? And it is FULL of life experience. And lessons. And moments. It is absolutely no shock to me that someone who has genuine life experience can impart wisdom and execute honesty in a way that is lost on many "younger" makers. Why the fuck don't we have more first time plays by older people. It is staggering to me that we don't pay them more attention when they've lived so much. I'm sure every theatre wants to find the next "hot young thing" so they can say they discovered them but fuck me - I'd swap a story from my mum about life than I would any young bawbags version of Hamlet.
Ultimately this a play about death; every beat of this story is about death. The dying of people, pets, burdens, unspokens, trauma... And in knowing that life is full of little deaths and big deaths we have to learn to live. And to be united by the experience of living and then being told that is does a insurmountable good for society. I fucking loved this piece of theatre.