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Review of A State of Mind at the Etcetera Theatre

A State of Mind
A State of Mind

Spur of the Moment’s A State of Mind is performing in the Etcetera Theatre (above the Oxford Arms). There are 2 shows planned, the first was the 12th March and the second the 23rd April.

The piece is both devised and performed by Alyce Louise-Potter. A one-woman show, a piece of verbatim theatre created around the spoken word of “Billie” a woman of a certain age recanting memories and journey from school days until the present day.

If you are already forming opinions about 1 woman-shows, verbatim techniques and wondering what on earth could be interesting about a woman in her 60s, then don’t. Stop and re-think what you think you already know. This piece really is excellent. It’s an important exploration of mental health, the practice of shaming and the consequences of living a life in a state of guilt. It’s an unassuming piece that stays with you long after you leave the theatre.

The piece received 5* reviews when it was first performed in the Tristan Bates Theatre last year and I am happily awarding it 5 stars this time around.

The piece is a perfect length at 50 minutes, the stage design simple: black box theatre. The floor is decorated with fairy lights and child-like drawings of family, love and spiritual symbols, they are carefully arranged on the floor in a semi-circle from which the “action” takes place.

Due to the verbatim technique in play, Alyce is wearing headphones throughout the show. I was sat in the front row, so often heard Billie’s voice through the headphones alongside Aly’s spoken words. This added a nice touch and highlighted the authenticity of the piece. Although I’d expect if you were any further back than me you won’t’ catch the 3-second delay in Alyce’s presentation.

The show is pacey and Alyce’s performance style is both engaging and thought-provoking. Alyce has mastered the art of story-telling and delivered the piece to the audience as if they were only one person in the room. Alyce carefully took time to look each audience member in the eye, directing her words to each one of us as if we were old friends.

The content of the piece is both uplifting and depression-giving. We follow our protagonist’s highs and lows, we learn of her LSD trips as a teenager, her conversations with sheep, running away at 15, her relationship with her mother and father, her love affairs, her marriage. Alyce continually delivers Billie’s words with care, respect and a fragility that is quite haunting.

I laughed with Billie, and I also had tears in my eye as I listened to her talk about her mother, father, daughter and her ex-husbands. I was horrified to learn of her mistreatment throughout her life, I was sickened to the stomach when she talked about how her friend was raped. Overall, I wanted to embrace Billie and tell her that the only validation she required was that of herself.

There are many themes in the piece; dark and shade, youth and experience, love and hate, guilt and shame, past and present and acceptance are all which are ever-present and very relevant in today’s society. Alyce has devised a piece of theatre that allows her audience to truly emphasise with another human. To feel her pain, her joy. To take her learnings and experiences and adapt them to our lives in order to affect positive change.

I’d love to see this piece developed further, it would be a perfect modern-day “talking heads” and to be watching it being performed by an older woman – someone who is of a similar age to Billie would be amazing.

5 Star Rating

Review by Faye Stockley

A State of Mind is a Verbatim piece of theatre, meaning every story heard is true. Throughout the piecewe use the recorded delivery technique, Alyce will wear headphones throughout and will be listening and sharing the stories on a 3 second delay. Each cough, stutter and breath is reproduced sharing the speech pattern of the interviewee.

A State of Mind is a new one woman play about the struggles in which we face and how we overcome
them. In this play we hear about the struggles with mental health, the use of medicinal and recreational drugs and how relationships form the ways in which we live and share ourselves with others.

Created by Alyce Louise-Potter – Directed by Xander Mars – Produced by Spur of The Moment
Cast: Alyce Louise-Potter (Billie)
Etcetera Theatre
265 Camden High Street Camden
London NW1 7BU
Monday 12th 2018

Author

  • Faye Stockley

    Faye read Theatre & Performance at The University of Warwick; she went on to work as a stage manager in London and Edinburgh. She had a year's stint on-board the MV Island Escape as a Social Host and Compere and now works full time as a Recruitment Manager for the broadcast, entertainment and media sectors.

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