Friday, September 22

Heart – Roundabout @ Summerhall

In Heart, actress Jade Anouka’s debut play offers a raw and sincere exploration of femininity, love, trauma, and mental health. It’s a journey of self-discovery and self-empowerment, but it’s the mode of presentation that captivates: the actress transcends herself and presents a narrative, a sort of monologue, where music, trap beats, and storytelling blend seamlessly.

In sync with beatboxer Grace Savage, who also happens to be her life partner, Anouka shares the story of a failed marriage, insecurities, societal pressures, and, ultimately, the process of rebirth in discovering her own bisexuality and her relationship with Grace. At the core are themes of mental health, often described as a dark beast capable of taking over, and the toxicity of social and romantic relationships that can crush an individual’s will and hinder the discovery of their most authentic self.

The storytelling intertwines performance poetry and rap elements, while Savage’s sound adds depth with rumbling undertones and ethereal waves punctuated by rhythmic breaths. The narrative alternates between moments of pure lyricism and more raw, cynical moments, always maintaining authenticity. What moves us is the genuineness of the story, how the actress bares herself and exposes vulnerabilities, all through a new and successful artistic form. Her narrative resonates like a modern fairy tale, told in tones reminiscent of Eminem and Taylor Swift, and we’re inevitably won over. Her energy and storytelling prowess showcase the skills of a well-trained and experienced artist, which is why we choose to fully embrace her narrative.

A modern story, musically immersive, resonating with the uncertainties we all face, making us feel a little less alone and a little less judged, and perhaps even a bit more courageous—the courage to step away from the suffocating dictates of society and live life on our own terms.

Reviewer: Anna Chiari

Reviewed: 24th August 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.