When It Happens, Tristan Bates Theatre – Review

L-R: Niamh Watson, Rachel Causer, Roisin Bevan

Three women wait in a police station. Possessing very different temperaments and experiences, they all ‘lost their heads’ at 2.16pm. So what exactly spurred them to ‘act in unison’…? Written by Rachel Causer and directed by Kennedy Bloomer, When It Happens is a funny and candid look at the ‘hidden’ battles that all women face, and what happens when they decide “No more”…

Jenny (Rachel Causer) works in an office – the ‘right-hand woman’ to the boss. However, her status doesn’t stop ‘colleague’ Steve from being ‘too friendly’, regularly sitting inappropriately close to her in every meeting. However on this occasion, it’s ‘the straw that breaks the camel’s back’… Beth (Roisin Bevan) is a single mother who hasn’t had the easiest of times. The ‘worst’ aspect of her life, however, is the absence of a deep-rooted connection to her child – something that ‘should’ be as natural as breathing. Meanwhile, Freya (Niamh Watson) listens to the others’ stories in disbelief. Unlike her cell mates, their ‘misdemeanours’ seem ‘trivial’, plus they aren’t covered in blood…

L-R: Rachel Causer and Roisin Bevan

While Jenny’s tale is amusing (with ‘important’ details such as the local salad bar and ‘Pret’!), there is a matter-of-fact delivery towards the attention she receives – an unsaid resignation that this is part-and-parcel of being a woman. But even so, there’s only so much one can take – especially when the other party is a well-known ‘character’…

Arguably the most moving of the three episodes, Beth’s monologue works on many different levels. Examining the many facets of being a mother, Beth opens up about her inner life versus the world’s perception of her, and her own relationship with her child. Anyone who has young children will recognise how ‘grating’ the ‘little things’ can be such as the repetition of a child’s favourite programme or music (in this case, Peppa Pig!) and on a more serious nature, criticism (from without and within) as a competent parent. Her opening speech about ‘reality’ for single mothers (where unlike movies, nobody comes to help change their circumstances for the better) really sets the tone for the rest of the monologue and highlights how in real life, there’s often no let-up in difficult situations.

Roisin Bevan as Beth

The youngest of the three, Freya is in her late teens and has a serious relationship. Having stayed overnight at her partner’s place, Freya’ father is unhappy with her actions – seeing parallels with Freya’s behaviour with his wife who left them both. So what does he do? Locks Freya in her room… After the vivid details of ‘the night before’ and seeing Freya momentarily happy, the audience is unprepared for what happens next…

Causer and Bloomer are to be commended for this nuanced deconstruction of womanhood and the multitude of emotions that women experience in everyday life. The emotionally-astute observations, coupled with engaging performances, make for an entertaining and insightful combination.

© Michael Davis 2018

When It Happens ran at Tristan Bates Theatre on 28th December, 2nd December and 5th December.

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