A State of Mind, King’s Head Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

Billie has been around. Now in her 60s, she reflects on a life filled with sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. But it’s not always been carefree – looking after her dying mother, dysfunctional relationships and a lack of parental support system meant that from her teen years she largely had to find her own way. Though she grew up in the age of free love, she also saw its dark underbelly and wants to share what she’s learnt along the way.

The trouble with Billie’s verbatim collection of stories, told using recorded delivery, is that it lacks a narrative thread, rising action or a climax. This absence of dramatic arc creates a subsequent lack of purpose – why is Billie sharing these anecdotes with us? It’s never made clear. There are some pleasing truisms within her stories, but there is nothing particularly moving or profound.

She’s an engaging character with an infectious, dirty laugh, played with energy and commitment by Alyce Louise-Potter. Surrounded by her artwork, candles and fairy lights, this ageing hippie is certainly a lot of fun. Her monologue is chatty and intimate, and her words are endowed with the wisdom of life experience – but just why she shares these experiences is never revealed.

Louise-Potter has created some excellent character-driven work in this 50 minute piece, but a character in and of itself cannot hold a piece of theatre together. A cohesive storyline with a distinct message lends a show shape and purpose that Billie’s escapades, whilst entertaining and moving on a superficial level, doesn’t have.

A State of Mind runs though 15 July.

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