BACKSTAGE IN BISCUIT LAND
devised by Jess Thom, Jess Mabel Jones and Matthew Pountney.
Barbican Theatre (Pit) Silk Street EC2Y 8DS To 26 September 2015.
Wed-Sat 7.45pm Mat 2.30pm.
TICKETS: 020 7638 8891.
Soho Theatre 21 Dean Street W1D 3NE 29 Sep-3 Oct 2015.
Tues-Sat 7pm Mat Sat 2.30pm.
TICKETS: 020 7478 0100.
Runs 1hr No interval.
Review: William Russell 23 September.
A tourette de force.
Jess Thom has Tourette’s syndrome – it is a condition which she has turned into this enlightening, enchanting and very funny hour long show aided by Jess Mabel Jones as compère, companion and everything else. Jess Thom’s problem is that she compulsively uses some words – one of them is ‘biscuit’, another is ‘hedgehog’ – and she tends to thump her chest to emphasise things she wants to say.
She describes herself as a thirty-something white woman, medium build and tells how she came to devise the show with the help of her friends. There is audience participation – lots of hand-waving and a rather naughty song about sex with animals – while the props include a picture of Mother Teresa, a swear box, an inflatable dinosaur, and lots of stuffed animals, while biscuits, of course, get handed round the entire audience.
Thom uses a wheelchair, and is pretty mobile within it. She comes across as warm, funny and undeniably a rather exhausting companion.
Wearing a T shirt saying "Let’s get ready to stumble" Thom tells about the carers who look after her during the night – she says she has a lot of tooth brushes in her bathroom – because sleeping is not easy, and warns us that she might have a fit at any moment, although she did not do so during this particular performance. She teases the audience and the long suffering other Jess, whose T shirt declares – "Let’s f*** the Cheap Seats" (but without the asterisks), mercilessly.
This is pure theatre. It is not a play, not stand up comedy, but performance art which both enlightens and challenges the audience.
Designer: Poppy Harris.