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Please, Feel Free To Share – Pleasance Courtyard

There’s been much talk in recent years about the disparity between the kind of lifestyle and outlook some people seem to have according to their social media profiles and the harsher reality of their offline existences. I’ve had people say to me that they ‘never’ post anything ‘negative’ online (the many comedians at the Edinburgh Fringe would have a field day with that one – “You had a positively ‘good’ pandemic, did you?”) and yet, in person, there are almost always a lot of gripes and complaints about a lot of people, places and things. And so, I have more respect for people who openly post about, say, having a terrible day or needing virtual hugs, than those who give the impression they live in perennial utopia.

Please Feel Free, courtsey of Chloe Nelkin Consulting.
Please Feel Free, courtsey of Chloe Nelkin Consulting.

Alex Dawson (Róisin Bevan), however, goes the other way in this amusing – and distinctly off-line – story, in which she develops an unusual addiction. She can’t wait, for instance, for the working day to finish so she can spend her evening at a group therapy session. There are, she discovers, groups for all sorts of topics, and what begins as a rather absurd storyline begins to make sense, because of the feel-good feeling that arises from talking things through with others. But, like almost any other addiction, to sustain that feeling, larger amounts of the product need to be consumed, and she therefore finds herself at some group or other most nights of the week.

This eventually takes some planning, because she doesn’t actually have the problems that would make it appropriate for her to be in attendance, let alone an active participant, so she plots and plans her stories (and backstories) for maximum emotional and psychological benefit (to herself). There’s a part of me that wants to retell one or two of her many hilarious stories but that would be giving too much away, suffice to say that if you imagine an undertaker being run over by an ambulance (which isn’t one of Alex’s stories), you’re in the right ball park. The salient point is that it has the desired effect, and Alex finds herself consoled and affirmed.

Bevan is excellent in her portrayals of what seem like countless characters (on account of attending so many therapy groups). We’re not supposed to like compulsive liars but there is something about this rather unique grieving process that makes this a strangely compelling watch.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Alex is a social success. Her Instagram boasts a montage of members-only rooftops, inexplicably sunny days and clinking glasses – like after like after like! When her father dies, Alex reluctantly joins a bereavement group. She shares a little, and then lies… a lot. And it feels good – like the ‘likes’, but live, and just like that, Alex is hooked.

World premiere of Please, Feel Free To Share
Pleasance Courtyard (The Attic), 60 Pleasance, Edinburgh, EH8 9TJ
Wednesday 3rd – Monday 29th August 2022

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