Everything is Going to be Fine & We Found Joy in a Hopeless Place – A Poetry Double Bill at Hackney Showroom

– reviewed by Phil Richards –

(editor’s note: this review is for an event that occurred on 29 March, we for the delay in publication)

A creative space…

The first thing I must mention when reviewing the night is the venue; the Hackney Showroom. It was my first visit to the… what to call it? Theatre? Warehouse? Symposium space for the creative mind? From the outside it may not seem much, but upon entering you find yourself amongst creative people, and an accepting and wonderful atmosphere to inspire that same creativity. The staff are all helpful, cheerful, and seem to find true enjoyment in their work; a stark contrast to the first act of the night…

A moving piece of performance art…

Not that Sophie Fenella‘s show starting piece, Everything Is Going To Be Fine (EIGTBF) is not powerful and enjoyable; it is both, and more! This extract of Ms. Fenella‘s solo show is an autobiographical delving into a breakdown whilst working in an office. I used to watch the TV series the Office when younger, and not really get it – but having now experience such I find it a much funnier and accurate depiction of office-life. Similarly I imagine that to those who have worked within the office environment EIGTBF strikes a more resounding chord; I know it did with me. A mix of spoken word, physical comedy, flowing movement and what I have had described to me as sound art – a beautifully apt phrase – is a fantastic delivery of the slow dissolution into the mental breakdown that the self-fooling title tries to deny. I doubt anyone watching could not feel moved by the dramatic and spellbinding performance – a truly great piece of performance art.

(Those who attended the 2016 Saboteur Awards, may also remember Sophie Fenella’s installation: The Archive)

A brief confession…

Before moving onto decribe the next part of the act I have a confession to make: I can be quite critical of many spoken word/poetry performances. A Slam Poetry night can be entertaining; give me your Benjamin Zephania, or Akala, fine. Let me sit down and enjoy a book of poetry, brilliant! But there in live poetry, there can often be an air of smugness that often feels a little off-putting.

About as far from ‘hopeless’ as you can get…

I have to admit to having been incredibly happily surprised therefore by the main act, We Found Joy in a Hopeless Place.

The main piece that is woven throughout is The Footsteps In The Water by Sohrab Sepehri, but the charismatic and talented actresses mix the verses with a blend of music, dance-like movement, and short, on point poems. These express and explore a range of joys that one can find in life, and following on the venue’s theme for the season, the joy that can be found in dissent. It’s a powerful message in these trying times where so many of the audience are protestors, activists and other ranges of dissenters themselves. Not only does it hit on the nerve of the time, but the performances are so inclusive and soulful, that you as an audience member feel yourself swept into the tales the words bring to you. You become a character in the production before your very eyes.

(We Found Joy in a Hopeless Place starred Laura Hanna, Mimi Ndiweni, Amelia Grant, Asha Reid & Beth Park and was directed by Hackney Showroom Associate Artist Oliver Dawe)

Like the sound of these shows? Here’s what you can do next…

I am unsure of whether the performance is to be repeated; one of my fellow audience members mentioned they thought it is to potentially go on tour, and if that is the case I encourage you wholeheartedly to buy a ticket. I would bet that you would definitely find joy in this far from hopeless performance.

And I also heartily recommend you check out the wealth of performances at the Hackney Showroom and find out a bit more about Sophie Fenella.

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