Review: The Very Thought at The Bikeshed Theatre

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Exeter PhD Drama student, Rose Biggin, delivers a stunning one-woman performance.

‘The Very Thought’ brings The Bikeshed Theatre’s From Devon with Love Festival to a climactic close. The Bikeshed, together with their development programme, Framework, has brought us three weeks of varied and brilliant theatre from Devon’s own performance artists. Giving locals the platform for their pieces, The Bikeshed supports innovative works, showcasing everything from poetry to dance, and amateurs to the likes of the SourDough Theatre Company and Jojo Spinks. The Theatre is not only a beautifully intimate, quirky space (tales of their cocktails have also reached the tabloids) but champions the county’s emerging rich, creative scene.

‘The Very Thought’, developed from the 2012 ‘Vertical Expression’ in a residency at The Unit as part of Framework’s ‘In Your Space’ programme. Rose Biggin fits naturally into the role of unstable pole dancing instructor, Violet, with equal grace and madness. For an alarming moment, the audience almost expects to be participating in Violet’s class at the Vertical Expression academy, a reference to George Bernard Shaw; ‘Dancing: The vertical expression of a horizontal desire’. Violet’s façade diminishes throughout the play as she divulges her story and we see more, very honest, glimpses of emotion. We gradually piece together who she is and learn about her trials with love as she wittily details an encounter with an ex-boyfriend and struggles through her break up with her girlfriend, the love of her life. The audience gets the impression of losing Violet to her thoughts and a bubbling madness pervades as she tries to hold a grip over ‘not showing you hurt’ and what to think about life. Through her trusting monologue and minimalist set she creates an inescapable intimacy with the audience, it’s all too easy to be endeared and enchanted by Violet. Her bubbling madness eventually erupts in her closing dance to a rendition of Ray Noble’s ‘The Very Thought of You’, mesmerising in its skill and humility. These moments of reflection and the minimalist set; simply Violet and her pole, truly emphasise the play’s concerns with loneliness. Violet’s empowering pole dancing further plays with these ideas and highlight the feminist elements in the piece, as conventions of sexuality are light-heartedly tested.

by Isabelle pitman, Razz Film and Literature Correspondent

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