Aug 25 2022 | By More

★★★★☆    Personal and universal

Greenside @ Infirmary Street (Venue 236): Mon 15 – Sat 27 Aug 2022
Review by Hugh Simpson

There is a quiet determination to Angela Jackson’s SAY IF IT’S NOT OKAY at Greenside @ Infirmary St that makes for an intensely personal and extremely worthwhile hour.

Jackson, perhaps best known as a novelist, has created a very effective show about the need to speak out. Often shows written, directed and performed by the same person can be unfocused, but this is a beautifully considered and structured effort.

Poster image for SAY IF IT’S NOT OKAY

If much of its intensity is diminished as it goes on, this is probably no bad thing in terms of the theatrical experience, as some of it approaches too painful to sit through.

Set as Jackson waits for her last session of psychotherapy, the play opens out into use of recorded voices, animations from artisto-dan and Tom Court’s music. Much of the performance is framed as a dialogue with her mother, whose early death informs a great deal of what happened later.

Jackson’s performance is assured enough to overcome issues with recalcitrant tech; the visual impact, and use of the acting space, has been clearly thought through.

carefully considered humanity

The material is raw, and could be difficult, but there is enough gentle humour, and carefully considered humanity, to make it more accessible. The use of detail to make characters come alive in a few words, such as the reference to only having seen her grandfather cry when John Coltrane died, is highly effective in its economy.

The feelings discussed are also more universal than many would like to admit; as Jackson says, ‘everyone feels they are not good enough at some point. Except Boris Johnson’. That elective mutism was once seen as just ‘being a good girl’ will also strike a chord with many.

The use of people from her past as characters to react to is handled well, although having conversations with recorded voices does begin to lose effectiveness after a while.

One of the best things about this production is its inviting, matter-of-fact nature. There is no raging, no hectoring, and no real pity. Instead, there is a gentle insistence that avoids empty platitudes and ends up being remarkably fulfilling.

Running time: One hour (no interval)
Greenside @ Infirmary St (Olive Theatre), 6 Infirmary St, EH1 1LT (Venue 236)
Monday 15 – Saturday 27 August 2022
Daily (not Sun 21): 19.55.
Information and tickets: Book here.



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