Theatre

‘Composed’ review – A daring commentary on societal expectations

Rosa Postlethwaite’s solo play is an intelligent, bold and thought-provoking look at the act of feeling – ★★★★

It’s rather ironic that one doesn’t know how to feel after watching Composed. While donning a loud, all-red outfit, Posselthwaite’s remarks on the arts industry – how to act, how to feel and other social conventions – are nuanced. Her inner emotions, most notably a rising frustration and sense of distress, are thinly veiled.

Rosa starts by thanking her sponsors, of which there are many in the stack of presenter cards in her hand. There’s several schemes, family members and the Student Loans Company, to whom she says she’ll never be able to repay them.

It’s critique of social conventions is, rather amusingly, unconventional. Fourth walls are broken as Postlethwaite tells us how to act and how we think, while voice over and audio descriptions blend together with subversive results. If not alternating between being off-stage and on-stage, then the actress lingers at the perimeters, never precisely centre stage, reserved and self-conscious. Her rejection of the spotlight a subtle visual representation of her critique.

Such commentary comes with experience. Drawing upon her time as a dramaturg and former arts organisation employee, Postlethwaite’s examination of social convention and theatre is sharp, witty and unexpectedly startling. In the 60 minutes, various emotions are teased out. After such an experience, the lasting question is surprisingly thought-provoking.

How are we meant to feel? Answers on a postcard, please – or rather, a short feedback form.

Composed is now playing at the Camden People’s Theatre until 11 October.


Production Images: Claire Nolan.

Disclaimer: I was invited to watch Composed free in exchange for a review of the performance as a member of the press. I did not receive payment for this review and all opinions stated are honest and my own.

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