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BWW Review: COLLAPSIBLE, Bush Theatre

BWW Review: COLLAPSIBLE, Bush Theatre

BWW Review: COLLAPSIBLE, Bush Theatre The Bush Theatre's studio feels like a perfect place for this play, as it demands close proximity between the audience and actor. Sitting on a raised ledge, Essie tells us the story of her job displacement, intertwining conversations she's had with her friends, family and former partners. Her aim is to make a list of words that describe her - in order for her to pull them out when being asked about herself in interviews. Words like smart, practical, and perfectionist are a few that have been chosen to be used.

Margaret Perry's play has gone down a treat in its previous iterations, and it's certainly clear why. There is a delicious rhythm and pacing to the text, and at the same time it manages to paint numerous pictures of the spoken world. Breffni Holahan gives a sensational performance. Considering she is rooted to a single block, she makes it her playground - moving about it in inventive ways. She stands, crouches, and leans, whilst always delivering the text to a perfect beat. Perry's script is written primarily in spoken word, which keeps you alert for a long time, but has the potential to lose its audience towards the second half. The narrative becomes repetitive and then a tad fuzzy in its intention, which makes you disengage slightly.

Unfortunately, it's in the plays direction where it is lacking excitement. Thomas Martin's choice of putting Holahan on the ledge really restricts the possibility of active action. The podium has been beautifully designed by Alison Neighbour, however watching the play, the choice of staging seems to prevent Holahan's full creative expression and impulse. I understand the idea; Essie constantly says about not being able to put their feet on the ground, however it feels a bit of an easy cop out.

That being said, Alex Fernandes's lightning is nothing short of superb. It's been expertly crafted to deliver clarity in specific moods and intentions. At one point it even looks like the podium is floating, which leaves you pretty stunned at the trickery. Other moments of lighting changes the facial expressions of Essie, making her seem clown like and sadistic. These are great moments in the play. And overall, this is a great production, because Holahan's brilliant performance carries it strongly in its weakest moments. The show is worth seeing for her acting alone.

Collapsible at Bush Theatre until 14 March

Photo: Helen Murray


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From This Author Charlie Wilks