Saving Britney, Old Joint Stock Theatre – Review

During one’s formative years, it’s not uncommon to ‘fall in love’ with a pastime or something that inspires a lifelong ‘passion’. For some it’s a particular sport or team, for others it maybe popular music or a singer/band, and for some it is Britney Jean Spears…

Shereen Roushbaiani as ‘Jean’ / All Photos © David Shopland

Written and designed by David Shopland, and performed and co-devised by Shereen Roushbaiani, Saving Britney focuses on Jean – one girl’s relationship with the eponymous pop star – and how they are entwined extricably. The real question is where does ‘Jean’ end and Spears begins…

As the effervesecnt ‘Jean’, Roushbaiani gives us a guided tour of the character’s childhood – from her ‘awakening’ to the sound of Baby On More Time to the landmarks of her family life. It is, however, the notion of ‘what lies beneath the surface’ – whether it’s the ‘hidden’ meaning of Spears’ lyrics or the non-verbal clues of what’s really happening with Jean’s parents – that gives the play a profundity that belies its coverage of life in the Noughties.

What really drives the show is Roushbaiani’s rapport with the audience. Whether it is Jean’s frank admissions of her likes and dislikes, or nostalgia for bygone music stores like ‘Our Price’, everyone will find something to connect with and laugh about.

While Saving Britney is in many ways a coming-of age story, its onus on self-discovery and Jean’s bittersweet memories remind us how for better or for worse, family and life’s unpleasant experiences are a catalyst for change and personal growth. Like her idol, Jean’s ‘emancipation’ isn’t just from the hold and expectations of others, but derived from emotional closure.

© Michael Davis 2022

Saving Britney ran at Old Joint Stock Theatre from 13th-15th January. The show continues its UK tour at the following venues and dates until 26th March:

20 – 22 Jan: Town & Gown, Cambridge
8 Market Passage, Cambridge, CB2 3PF
8pm | £13 | 01223 309796

27 – 29 Jan: Alma Tavern, Bristol
18 – 20 Alma Vale Road, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 2HY
8pm | £13 | 0117 973 5171

11 – 12 Feb: The LBT, Huddersfield
Queens St., Huddersfield, HD1 2Sp
7.45pm | £12 | 01484 430528

13 Feb Theatre @41, York
41 Monkgate, York, YO31 7PB
7.30pm | £12 |

18 Feb:: The Garrick, Lichfield
Castle Dyke, Lichfield, WS13 6HR
7.45pm | £17 | 01543 412121

24 Feb: South Mill Arts, Bishop’s Stortford
1-3 South Road, Bishop’s Stortford, CM23 3JG
£17.50 (£15.50 concs) | 01279 710200

2 Mar: Fisher Theatre, Suffolk
10 Broad St., Bungay NR35 1EE
7.30pm | £10 | 01986 897130

5 Mar: Old Electric, Blackpool
Springfield Rd, Blackpool, FY1 1QW
3pm and 7pm | £7 | 01253 834175

8-10 Mar: The Hope Mill, Manchester
113 Pollard St., Manchester, M4 7JA
8pm | £15 | 0161 275 9141

12 Mar: The Nutshell, Winchester
15 Kings Walk, Winchester, SO23 8AF
7.30pm | £13.50 | 01962 808533

25 – 26 Mar: Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff
Market Road, Cardiff, CF5 1QE
8pm | £13 | 029 2031 1050

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