This show about random acts of kindness shouldn't work but even cynics will love it, says Joanna Ing at the Lowry, Salford
28 Feb 2014
If you are sceptical about the idea of doing something kind for someone everyday for a year, you're not alone. Most people would approach a show called 366 Days of Kindness with a healthy cynicism and the writer and performer Bernadette Russell knows this.
She is, she explains, the very antithesis of a do-gooder. Firstly, she spent a good part of her life being pretty horrible, particularly to her younger sister; secondly, she doesn't pretend that the task was easy or that it always made her feel warm and fuzzy inside - in fact there were times when people refused to take what she offered them.
Russell's commitment to the cause of kindness was born out of the summer riots. One of the more positive stories that came out of that time were those acts of kindness: the communities that banded together to help out the local shopkeeper, or the man who called out for volunteers to sweep the streets with his riotcleanup tweet and ended up with thousands of followers who wanted to help. Russell explains that her response to the riots was to commit to do something kind for someone every day for a year.
It's an honest and funny account of the things she did to be kind over the year, mixed with interviews and photos of some of the people she met along the way. Added comedy value is provided by her partner Gareth, who sits at the side of a stage and supplies her inner voice, the voices of everyone else that she encounters, and at one point a bit of interpretative dance to a powerpoint presentation of all the homemade cards she gave to people.
Russell knows Danny Wallace got there before her and she knows she isn't Amelie (though she really would like to be), but as she talks about the messages that she got back from the recipients of a home-made card or small gesture, it makes you think about all those random acts of kindness that happen and the way they can brighten up your day.
You may walk into the performance sceptical, but I defy you not to walk out and not want to do at least one small act of kindness.
366 Days of Kindness is touring the UK until 28 May. Full tour dates are here.