Review: Reasons You Should(n't) Love Me (Kiln Theatre)
Amy Trigg's one-woman show reopens the Kiln Theatre
It's good to be back in the theatre, especially the Kiln, which consistently stages work by exciting new writers. Their first show of the reopening season is Amy Trigg's Reasons You Should(n't) Love Me, which jointly won the inaugural Women's Prize for Playwriting last year. And it isn't hard to see why the judges loved it so much.
Described as 'part-stand-up, part-therapy', in Reasons we meet Juno (also played by Trigg), a charming, incredibly positive though self-deprecating young woman. Juno has spina bifida and has been in a wheelchair since she was eight, and she has learned to continuously crack jokes, before anyone else can ("You're very supple" a doctor remarks in the opening scene, "thanks, I've warmed up" she replies without missing a beat).
Recounting moments throughout her 20s, the play explores Juno's interactions with the world, particularly her love life. Is she able to have sex? What will she feel? As she remarks, she was left out of the sex ed story at school so these are questions she's had to seek out the answer to herself. Through nine-year crushes, offensive Tinder chat-up lines (expertly responded to with a takedown complete with a handheld microphone) and street healers we watch these vignettes of Juno's interactions with the world and learn how disability can change your relationship with relationships, religion and mental health.
Trigg's performance - and writing - is outstanding. From the moment she emerges from a large Capri Sun box (design by Jean Chan) with the inside taped with foils (mimicking the cardboard MRI machine Juno's parents made to stop her being nervous about the real thing), she has us completely captivated. Dressed in a stylish hot pink suit and Converse with rainbow soles, she plays all the roles in Juno's life including her friends (like Mel, who lost her humour "somewhere between Braintree and Brentwood") and in the same breath catches us off guard with jokes; she pulls a punch then delivers a devastating line ("I feel like an unfinished project"). For a moment your heart stops, but a second later Juno is bouncing into the next story and you're taken along with it. There's often a tint of sadness behind her wide smile and happy-go-lucky persona which is later explored in a touching speech about mental health and the vicious cycle of thinking 'someone else always has it worse'.
Charlotte Bennet's direction is economical, allowing us to focus on Trigg and the action. Aside from the large box which opens out as a backdrop, the stage is bare, and Trigg has full command of it. Guy Hoare's lighting switches between bright greens and oranges to the more subdued, with the lighting up of stars a gorgeous finale to this excellent show. Elena Peña's sound design breathes extra life into proceedings, as we hear the muted "Come on Eileen" of a party or the muffled conversations of parents in the room next door to you while you're trying to have sex.
I'm shocked to find this is Trigg's first full-length play as it is so well-written and explores some really big topics while still being thoroughly entertaining. A hilarious, honest and heartwarming play which demands an audience.