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Review: 4, Park Theatre

Sarah Milton's one-woman-play, originally scheduled for VAULT Festival, debuts at Park Theatre's Come What May Festival.

Review: 4, Park Theatre

Review: 4, Park Theatre This review contains spoilers.

"According to my mum, I'm always doing something wrong and giving the wrong impression" we meet a quiet, lonely young woman. Except when she drinks and Maggie comes out. Her circumstantial friendship with Trixie has become co-dependency, and she been seeking refuge in the alcoholic numbness and social ecstasy she finds when they go out together.

After drinking heavily and waking up in her bed, covered in bruises, next to a man she can't remember, Sarah Milton's protagonist is forced to face a reality she hadn't anticipated. With a mum who shows love by making tea, an annoying and cackling best frenemy, and a colleague who's full of surprises, she badly needs to reevaluate her life.

Milton's text is poetic in a prose that can turn into a harrowing rat-a-tat of vivid descriptions. She presents the constraints and expectations of a society that's indoctrinated women to think they desperately need to have a romantic partner.

Her self-destructing tendencies stem from a deep desire to be accepted, and a buried struggle with her sexuality. Director Rosa Crompton fences the character with a deck of cards spread out to delineate the stage, hinting at the drinking game that will turn her life for the worse.

Milton handles quite the number of themes in 4. From sexual assault to alchoolism and toxic friendships, she paints a landscape where all these issues coexist and feed off one another. The unavoidable downside is that they all get tied up very quickly.

Trixie calms down and gets a boyfriend, her colleague Angelica goes back to Ohio and finds a girlfriend, and she moves back with her mum. Everything around her changes but "[her] heart has fallen out of [her] body" and can't recover.

While the realisation that she's been assaulted in her own bed comes well after the fact and only when Trixie makes a joke about her being "easy", one in three women are raped in their own home by someone they know. When she seeks specialised therapy, the waiting time is two long years.

Milton skims through her backstory, but, in doing so, she gives her journey a specific slant. An absent father, a mother who can't communicate her feelings, and a horrible friend bear the brunt. While these people take up a lot of her subconscious, there's very little exploration of her perception of them. By blocking out the causes, Milton almost slips into Freudian territory.

Just like its victim, 4 is permeated with an intense search for a happy ending. It's a necessary play, one that shines a light on the intertwinement of certain types of trauma.

4 runs at the Park Theatre as part of Come What May Festival until 21 May.

Photo credit: Harry Elletson

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