Who hasn’t gone on social media during this pandemic and wondered why that person on the screen looks like they are doing so well? The loneliness of the pandemic and the vast outreach of the apps have played a massive part in all of our lives, and All By Myself is a refreshing but worrying “Insta vs Reality”.
The piece started with a character on screen, finding a good position, adjusting her clothes and fixing her hair. It speaks well for the actress, Charlie Blandford, that I was not sure if the play had begun or if she was about to introduce it.
The character, played intelligently by Blandford, busies herself making a self-care video, when really, she isn’t doing all that great. It is impressive that the character’s relatability is so strong when there is hardly any dialogue. You know this girl, you have seen this influencer’s feed, and as the audience you can’t help but feel for her. A lovely moment of realisation when she sees her facemask covered reflection is when you get to see the real her. A funny, silly girl who is ultimately more endearing than the pouting, soft spoken girl in her videos. A message that is all too important for young people who, like this character, wish to be perceived as having the perfect life.
It is funny to think of all the silliness in the amount of effort it takes to seem effortless. The character’s attempts at casual perfection are done with great comedic effect. This is contrasted well with the frustration that comes later. I have to commend Lily Howkins, the movement director, as the characters’ changes of tempo and obsessive actions are quite unnerving to watch.
The piece moved well from the girl filming herself and the computer screen editing she’s doing, to a multiple camera set with minimal props and lights. The cameras around the space helped in focusing in on the character’s ever-changing movements. She was peeling potatoes, organising a desk, scrambling around for lights, and even though these are menial tasks, I was intrigued.
I’ve been that girl sat on the floor snacking and staring at a screen, and I’m positive whoever reads this hasn’t been too far away either. Even though this is the tale of a girl who’s alone and struggling, it helps to see that we’re not alone in this “unprecedented time”.
Reviewer: Coral Mourant
Reviewed: 18th October 2020
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★