★★★★ Bella Heesom's 'My World Has Exploded A Little Bit', Ovalhouse.
You know when you walk into a theatre and the girl you've taken with you says 'this is literally like my school theatre', and then a girl wearing mismatched patterns, shimmery converse and a blue bow tie approaches you and says 'Hello, I'm Ava, and I am the music'? This was not a get the idea.
This part true story, part satirical, ridiculous lecture works better than anyone could ever explain it in theory. If you said 'she goes from giving a lecture about all of the really cliche ways to deal with death, to talking about her personal experience of losing both of her parents by the age of 26, people would say it wouldn't work. It does.
The tiny, tiny detail of whether the glasses were holding back Bella's hair, or on her face, was a perfect distinction between grieving Bella and Lecturer Bella - who gave a relentlessly formulaic explanation of exactly how anyone and everyone should deal with death, down to the exact time it should take for them to 'get over it'.
Towards the end, this transition got quicker and quicker until Bella was having a conversation with Bella at at least twice the speed of any normal conversation, which was the epitome of Heesom's wonderful and versatile acting ability.
Ava, while not heavily involved, was consistently present. It was helpful, in never quite enabling the audience to be overwhelmingly sad, because just as it gets a bit too much, up pops Ava. She gave a particularly light hearted sheen to the whole production, which could have otherwise been overwhelmingly dark in tone.
There was absolutely no forth wall in sight, nor did there need to be. I wasn't aggravated by audience participation (and believe me, I usually am) despite even being told to hug the person next to me, and then remind them that they are going to die. Cheery.
So here we are, I haven't said anything bad about the whole production and yet I've only given it 4 stars. Why? Because while it left me feeling sad and simultaneously amused, the combination of the two resulted in a resounding disengagement. Resounding disengagement for me; though and I am someone who hasn't even lost a grandparent (praise the Lord) yet, let alone a parent.
My World Has Exploded A Little Bit runs until Saturday 27th May at the Ovalhouse before embarking on a tour of the Uk. Tour dates are as follows;