Please note: This review – like the production itself – discusses mental health and suicide. Please take care when reading and click off this article if these subjects are triggering to you.
Not Another One is rough – not just as a work-in-progress (WIP) from the Not Another One Collective, but in its sensitive subject matter (mental health and people dying by suicide at train stations) and an assortment of crisps, McDonalds orders and drinks cans scattered across the VAULT Festival stage. It’s a pained, somber and softly spoken performance from actor Annabeth Westerman-Blake, who plays queer, foul-mouthed West Ham supporter Holly, but much like how she feels standing on a tube platform facing train delays, things could do with moving a little bit faster.
The story goes that she has been left shaken by witnessing the death of a man who jumped in front of a train at Victoria station, often tucking in to a pack of crisps on stage and having the occasional kip as she processes it all, and realises the topic of mental health soon hits a lot closer to home. Even so, Westerman-Blake is receptive and riffs off the crowd at many points to maintain some light-hearted humour. She encourages us to slag off Tottenham, swears at a cat she offers a single crisp to and often tries to play keepie-uppies with bits of rubbish. A lot of the dialogue comes with barbed sarcasm and a solitary thumbs up to mask her frustration with everything. When things start getting heavy, we can really sense how tired and fed up she is with a wider system. Her otherwise brash exterior gives way to a more sentimental and solemn core which is moving, but lacks projection at times – even for someone sat in the front row of benches.
Some leniency in my criticism is required, however, due to the simple fact that it is a WIP, but there is certainly room for improvement. At regular intervals Holly whips out her phone to await a text from housemate Karen which never comes through, and as a stage direction it’s fairly unremarkable. Naturally, there’s limitations with VAULT Festival, but there could well be a screen/projection displaying some text messages to further flesh out the characters to which we are introduced. This, and some tightening tweaks to pacing and projection, can give a greater depth to Ellen Jupp’s otherwise fragile play.
Not Another One is now playing at VAULT Festival until 12 March.
Production Images: Not Another One Collective.
Disclaimer: I was invited to watch ‘Not Another One’ for free in exchange for a review of the performance as a member of the press. I did not receive payment for this article and all opinions stated above are honest and my own.