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Review of Greenery at the Etcetera Theatre – Camden Fringe

GreeneryGreenery, written and performed by Carmina Bernhardt is a powerful one-woman show that explores human nature, and how everybody has an unsaid story.

Leading us through her horrendous morning, seemingly so bad because she somehow left the house in mismatched shoes, we eventually learn that there is a lot more to it than that, and a lot more behind the people she meets on the way.

Bernhardt has captured the struggles of morning rush hour on public transport very well. On a near empty stage, she still manages to conjure up the lack of space through her physicality and some well thought out staging and direction by Annemiek Van Elst. She also beautifully portrays three other characters, without there being any confusion about what she is doing. The precision here is amazing, as she returns to the exact position she was in before each time she switches character.

Although constantly addressing the audience, there are a few random moments of almost dropping character to chat to the audience, yet these break up the flow of the piece in a way that works. These moments are funny, particularly when she shows each member of the audience a photo she has just googled on her phone. She also genuinely has the Citymapper app on her phone when she is talking about it – she doesn’t show the audience this on purpose but a glimpse can be caught. Bonus points for attention to detail.

Witty and engaging, with a nice use of props, this piece explores the way humans are all the same beneath their exteriors, often so cold during the commute to and from work. It is true that everyone is fighting a battle that we know nothing about, and Bernhardt casts light upon this way of thinking toward the end when the vibe changes to a more storytelling one. Storytelling, but in a gentle way, and almost to herself more than the audience. It is an unexpected change and appears rather random, but it makes sense when all is said and done.

A strong, enjoyable first solo piece and well worth a look on the last weekend of the Camden Fringe.

4 stars

Review by H Hemming

Annemiek Van Elst, Associate Director at Lyric Hammersmith, directs writer/performer Carmina Bernhardt in her debut solo show, Greenery, a one-woman comic play about getting the bus to work, having accidentally worn two different shoes, showing at the Etcetera Theatre as part of the the 2017 Camden Fringe.

Greenery questions the limits of our empathy, explores guilt and grief, and tries to make use of the full value of the Hopper fare.

Carmina says: “I want to challenge the audience via their connection with the lead character, Viveca, to open up to the gifts that others give and to see that our trials may be different, but we suffer the same as we move through the pains and joys of being a human.
Music and sound design by Simon Norman.

STOLEN CACTUS PRESENTS:
GREENERY
A new play by Carmina Bernhardt
Etcetera Theatre, 265 Camden High St, NW1 7BU
25 – 27 August, 2017

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