I recall the comedian Lenny Henry (not yet, at this point, a Sir) remarking on the stark difference between the break-up songs in the world of chart music sung by men as opposed to those sung by women. The repertoire for the former category includes “Ain’t No Sunshine” sung by Bill Withers and “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” sung by Otis Redding. Redding’s tune isn’t strictly about a break-up but does capture the melancholic nature of a relationship ending. For women, Henry asserted, strike a note of defiance, such as in Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” or Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor”. My favourite break-up number for years was “Go Your Own Way”, the Fleetwood Mac tune, before Cee Lo Green came along with “Forget You”.
But in Getting Over Everest, Libby (Natasha Santos) turns instead in the first instance to Whitney Houston’s rendering of the Dolly Parton song “I Will Always Love You”. Later, she plays Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” so many times at work that her line manager (George Vafakis) calls her in for a quiet word. There’s plenty of bittersweet humour in this one-act production, which started off at such a breakneck pace that I struggled to keep up with what Libby was saying. It is a speed that could not be sustained to the end: the final scenes felt longer than they were.
There may have been a missed opportunity to insert a reference to a certain political leader in an extended (and somewhat overdone) gag about passing wind – one of the definitions given for ‘trump’ in the Collins English Dictionary online is “to expel intestinal gas through the anus”. Libby’s coping strategies are sometimes a cause for alarm for best friend Steph (Grace Dunne), who enjoys the single life and the relative independence that comes with it. Setting her up with Man From Bar (also George Vafakis) – for whatever reason Libby never finds out his name – Steph watches from afar as Libby, with some justification, finds herself back where she was more than a decade ago, going through the effort required to find love again.
She has a point when she talks about having to do things she did all those years ago, when she met Rob Everest, an off-stage character, because – and I trust this is not too much of a spoiler – he has dumped Libby. Her experiences can be applied to other contexts, such as finding a new job after having been employed at a certain company for many years, or adjusting to retirement – I once had a conversation with a recently retired lady who felt rather disorientated by the idea of not having to rush around during busy shifts ever again – or, perhaps the most heart-breaking scenario, an elderly person having to move from the house they have lived in for decades into a care facility.
A nurse (also Grace Dunne) has some words of advice for Libby, which proved to be more useful than all the mumbo-jumbo from Steph about it being “okay to not be okay”. The many direct addresses to the audience helped maintain interest and made Libby a more rounded character, who might otherwise have come across as hapless rather than someone just trying to make sense of where she should go from this point in her life’s journey. This is, at the end of the day, an exploration of First World Problems. Nonetheless, it’s an entertaining and eclectic production.
Review by Chris Omaweng
Getting dumped is like a mountain, full of setbacks and revenge cock … wait, what?
Defined by her relationship status, Libby knows little else. When Rob Everest unexpectedly decides to cut ties, she spirals into an unannounced depression. But with the support of her friend Steph and the man from the bar, outspoken and explicit Libby attempts to find out who she is and what life has to offer.
A unique female-led production combining monologue storytelling, character comedy, ensemble and the ultimate breakup playlist.
Libby Natasha Santos
Steph/Nurse Grace Dunne
Boss/Bar Man George Vafakis
Writer Natasha Santos
Director Katherine Timms
Designer Joe Carter
Getting Over Everest
7th – 11th August 2018
Run Time: 1 hour