Tuesday, October 3

Three – The King’s Arms, Salford

Currently on a national autumn tour, this intimate two hander, performed by Christie Peto and Hannah Harquart, explores one woman’s life experiences both inside and outside of her mind. We observe how she deals with her ordinary, even mundane life, whilst gripped by anxiety, low self-esteem and a manic depressive health problem. Not a barrel of laughs you may imagine, but actually, these charming comediennes, with both excellent timing and expression hold their audience from start to finish.

One thing that is made very clear, having depression and anxiety is very exhausting. Every action, reaction, decision is overthought, challenged, rejected, investigated to microscopic detail and the battle between being positive and optimistic vs the doubtful and self loathing is constant.

Harquart presents the manic side of the personality offering enthusiasm, joy and positivity which is very entertaining at first but as her joviality continues the audience’s empathy for Peto’s depressed and anxious side grows. Peto herself expresses her state of mind with huge honesty and painful detail. We feel her exhaustion, we see her battle, we understand her attempts to find solutions, her commitment to becoming well and to ‘just’ feel normal.

The characters dance around each other. When they are united, they are slick and strong, when they clash, they are lonely and isolated and these are not easy concepts to stage effectively, but they do. There is a great rapport between these two performers, and it is their timing, their natural wit and their ability to react to the audience and each other that gives this piece additional strength.

The material is at its best when the character starts to make positive attempts to become well. Having had talking therapy, she attempts to follow advice. To get out there, try new things, interrupt the negative thoughts and to challenge them. Her foray into internet dating, her valiant attempt to complain about a train journey, to convince herself that she is better than a wheely bin (you had to be there!) are funny and heartbreaking at the same time. When she asks certain questions of the world – ‘Are humans the only animals that are capable of judging others?’ We understand her need to ask. We applaud her sadness (about social media) that so many people get so much joy out of filming other people’s pain, and by the end we are rooting for her to be well, to feel good about herself, to see what we can see so clearly; that she is a good human being in a difficult situation. We are on her side.

The intimacy of the space in The Kings Arms added to this personal and exposing journey and the actors utilized it and the audience to great effect, with lovely energy, open honesty and we were left with the hope that things will get better, one day at a time.

Reviewer: Lou Kershaw

Reviewed: 6th September 2023          

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.