Rattled by Rachel Harper (Missmanaged Theatre)
Old Red Lion (Short walk from Angel Tube Station) until 2nd March
Veronica Stein, February 18th, 2019
Em is waiting for the train to London Bridge, with only these for company: the CCTV camera and a baby in its carrier. With a captive audience, both in the real audience and the infant, she has the freedom to express what’s been plaguing her, perhaps for a very long time, and very deep down.
As she mines her experience as a reluctant wife, we learn she has settled for someone she was unlikely to love unconditionally. She has to label his contact information with a song that makes her happy to overcome her natural instincts.
The very nature of ‘natural instincts’ is unnerving for Em- she recounts off the top of her head several factoids about motherhood in the animal kingdom, from eating one’s young to the less grisly. Along with expressing Em’s intelligence and anxieties in equal measure, this elucidates the risk in maternity; that for many parents what is natural comes with deep fear of ones own power as a parent. For Em, her relationship with her parents as a child multiplies these worries.
Jemma Gross’s direction coupled with Harper’s presence intermingle to keep the pace– often the downfall on one- handers — by racing between Em’s frenetic state of mind and her quieter reflections. It is never too static, save the baby in the carrier, who serves as a constant reminder either that motherhood is imminent or already arrived for Em. This paranoia serves the story incredibly well, coupled with some details grounded in reality (i.e. phone calls from Em’s husband) and others that maintain a nightmarish quality. Harper has been nominated for an Offie for her performance and quite rightfully so. She is engaging and present, alongside manifesting a relatable narrative through specific characterisation.
Missmanaged Theatre, in their first London offering, explore childhood trauma and adulthood disappointment in this affecting piece, commanded excellently by writer/performer Rachel Harper.
Em: Rachel Harper
Director: Jemma Gross
Designer: Florence Hazard
Lighting: Sherry Coenan