Comedy (Storytelling, Theatre)
Laughing Horse @ The Counting House (Venue 170)
Rosie Wilby’s comedic background takes a backseat during “Conscious Uncoupling”, instead opting for a deceptively disarming stagecraft. Musing on the coming together and falling apart of a relationship, Wilby uses the narrative refrain of ‘A Christmas Carol’ to provide a gentle and oftentimes heart-aching hour of storytelling
At the outset of the show Wilby dons a white bedsheet with miniature sword and shield, and tells the audience she is the ‘Ghost of Future Love’, come from 2070. In the future, she intones, breakups have become callous and uncaring, with partners using text, email, even telepathy to end relationships. She implores the audience to become her ‘warriors of love,’ to restore empathy to romance.
From this Wilby launches into the story of a recent girlfriend. Having only experienced Wilby as a comedian, it was a delight for me to experience Willby as a storyteller. The staging is simple and effective: when stood Wilby is speaking after the breakup, rereading old emails shared with her partner, and while sat she relives their early romance, from meeting in a backroom comedy club..
At points the pacing of the performance dips dangerously close to lethargy. The seated moments are in particular need of some theatrical aid, as reading from a book severely hampers Wilby’s performance ability. Wilby is clever to intersperse moments of comedy, a flashlight inspired ‘Ghost of Love Past’ being a particular highlight. Unfortunately this is the same technique used to indicate the ‘Ghost of Love Present,’ which was initially confusing for the audience.
This is a refreshingly heartfelt story that does not shy away from the more ambiguous ends of relationships. It is a firm foundation, but at points lacks theatrical flair to become fully engaging.