Collapsible presented by HighTide and Ellie Keel Productions
What is it?
This one woman monologue by Margaret Perry explores anxiety and mental health in the face of a modern and overwhelming world.
What is it about?
Essie (Breffni Holahan), unemployed, but on the hunt for a new job, is compiling a list. "What one word would you use to describe me?" The list, begins as a way to distract from questions about how Essie is spending her time, and as research for her numerous interviews, but soon becomes an obsession, a need that Essie cannot stop her self from fulfilling. She calls old bosses, ex-collegues, friends she hasn't spoken to in years, even asks her parents to contribute. And as the list grows longer and longer, Essie finds herself withdrawing further and further into herself, attempting to make the words on the page match up with the person she is presenting to the outside.
Just as we find her in her darkest moments, closer to the edge than she has ever been before, an unexpected hand reaches out, and helps her down before her inevitable fall.
How did it make me feel?
This piece feeds into the modern neuroses of living in a fast paced world. Desperate to succeed, Essie falls into the same trap as so many other young people trying to make it in this world do. Perched atop an eroding platform, knees tucked under herself, and eyes focused on the audience, piercing us, taking on an almost clowning style, Holahan is a force to be reckoned with. Her performance is measured and contained, slipping out the edges and seams as and when it needs to, every movement is made with absolute precision. Direction by Thomas Martin is clear and concise, and the use of a strong drumming sound to signify scene and thought changes effective and brings a new energy to each moment.
There are many characters in this story, all of which Holohan plays, a true feat for one person, but as the writing (though mostly captivating), can get murky and there are times when it is confusing and hard to follow.
Where is it playing?
This is quite an accomplished set for the intimate Studio space at Bush Theatre. The floor is covered in pebbles and stones, and the step like podium that Holahan sits on throughout is almost floating, as if under her spell. The lighting design by Alex Fernandes creates an eerie and shadowy energy that averts the light from Essie's face, always hinting that reality is only an idea and not certainty.
Perry's writing is whip smart and completely absorbing, creating a world that is both what we know, and a rich and terrifying landscape of the minds inner workings.
Collapsible is playing at Bush Theatre until the 14th March 2020.
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