FRINGE 2018: Why you need to see... I'll Have What She's Having
Who: Jess Brodie and Victoria Bianchi
What: I'll Have What She's Having
Where: Assembly George Square Studios - Four
Jess Brodie and Victoria Bianchi play fictionalised versions of themselves in I'll Have What She's Having, a play about outward bliss, inward crisis, and a desperate longing for someone else's 'perfect' life. Through dialogue, physical comedy, dance, affecting soliloquies, clever narration, audience interaction, and...bananas, the pair examine counter-productive faux contentment.
There's something very prescient and vital about the subject matter, given the social media age and everyone's preoccupation with sharing an idealised version of themselves. It's all veneer bullshit of course, and IHWSH shows exactly why it can be so damaging to the individual (making them feel like a fraud) and others (who can't possibly measure up to the idyllic lie).
Victoria has seemingly ticked off all of society's prerequisite boxes for a young woman, in terms of finding 'the one', a dream wedding, happy marriage, baby, settled home life, etc. Jess on the other hand is supposedly living life to the full with a rich and varied social life, exciting trysts, and the freedom to do as she wills. Of course each secretly covets the other's lot.
Both Brodie and Bianchi do manic happiness superbly well. They somehow manage to convey smiley mania with a desperate 'help me' panic in their eyes. IHWSH is a testament to their impressive and nuanced acting skills, but also their incredible versatility. There are so many different moving parts - from almost sketch comedy to dramatic pathos to dance routines - and they nail every one.
It speaks both of their varied talents and the immense work that clearly went into the production. It is also annoying to learn that Brodie and Bianchi themselves jointly penned the play. There are some gorgeous turns of phrase and pithy one-liners that recall the likes of Victoria Wood and Alan Bennett in their banal everyday profundity, and the overall script is so tight.
It would be easy to pigeonhole IHWSH into its own audience silo; to suggest it's purely for millennials, or specifically for women. Nothing could be further from the truth. Keeping up with Joneses is nothing new, and the pursuit of (perceived) happiness is universal. This could easily have been an ambitious but complicating mishmash, instead it's a fully-formed gem.
You can buy tickets for I'll Have What She's Having here.