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Everything Is Absolutely Fine – The North Wall | Review

Many people can relate to Everything Is Absolutely Fine on at least some level, whether it’s Alice Keedwell (as herself, or at least, a dramatized version of herself) in the supermarket trying to make a decision as to what precisely to buy from the various choices available, or trying to gauge other people’s reactions to something she said in a group setting. Whilst Alice grapples with seemingly insurmountable waves of negative thoughts, voiced by Anxiety (Harry Blake), she doesn’t give up and have a day off. Indeed, the show begins with an expression of frustration that she slept in one morning and hadn’t completed an early morning run she had intended to do. There’s the slightest hint of taking time out in the closing moments of the show, but otherwise, she ploughs on.

Everything Is Absolutely Fine, House of Blakewell (c)Trust A Fox.
Everything Is Absolutely Fine, House of Blakewell (c)Trust A Fox.

She’s also managing to hold down a full-time job, and it’s evidently a job she wants to do. When an incident occurs that warrants further investigation, she holds her ground and calmly explains that while she made her recommendations clear, she was ultimately outvoted by colleagues who held a different opinion. One’s professional life is not the same as one’s personal life, but it would seem Alice (whether she explicitly admits it or not) learns from her experiences at work, accepting that a problem won’t go away by ignoring it, running away from it, or even talking about it: “A problem shared is still a problem”.

There are some wry observations in the rich lyrical content, and some of the thoughts voiced by Anxiety are, perhaps deliberately, quite extreme: I wondered if at one point Anxiety was going to tell Alice not to get into a car because she might crash. (Because, you know, she might: road traffic accidents happen every day.) There’s nothing wrong with laughing during a musical comedy – at least not in my book – and Anxiety’s lines of thinking were firmly in the realm of hyperbole. At the same time, they were considerably concerning, and helped to understand Alice’s behaviour and interactions with others in social situations.

If anything, there’s a useful reminder not to get too distracted by what other people may or may not think: while perceptions are important, one isn’t ultimately in control of the thoughts and opinions of others. In Alice’s case, what Anxiety leads her to believe about her new friends is, in a word, nonsense, but it had such an impact on her that she is thrown by their continued civility and even warmth.

The songs are pleasant to listen to – some of the content, not so much. It is a very personal story, and one that doesn’t attempt to present a workable solution to anxiety and negative thoughts for everyone. I initially found it slightly odd that Alice didn’t attempt to join any self-help groups or sign up for therapy or counselling of some kind, but in the end, it makes sense that she didn’t – she’d have been too anxious to do so. There may not be anything ground-breaking in the narrative: good triumphing over evil in a musical has definitely been done before. But it’s a credible, witty and highly observant show.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Everything is Absolutely Fine

Written by Alice Keedwell
Music and Lyrics by Harry Blake
Livestream Directed by Valentina Ceschi
Lighting Design by Richard Williamson
Choreography by Jennifer Fletcher
Consultant Design by Emma Bailey
Associate Design by Natalie Johnson
Relighting by David Glover
Livestream by Christian Czornyj and Adam Lenson for theatrical.solutions
Produced by Hannah Elsy Productions and House of Blakewell

Alice — Alice Keedwell
Anxiety — Harry Blake



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