Camden Fringe Festival 2017: A State of Mind at Tristan Bates Theatre
Renowned actors’ faces adorn the walls of the Tristan Bates Theatre. As part of the Actors Centre, the venue showcases national and international talent including new writing and contemporary theatre. Tonight’s performance is a one-woman act written and presented by Alyce Louise-Potter. As the house call is announced, everyone scrambles to get seats and Potter appears, easing into the character of 60-year-old Billie, complete with a husky smoker’s voice.
Innocent drawings are scattered around – Billie clearly enjoys art. Exclaiming “I love the vintage and the old,” her accent is Cockney with a peculiar twang, and as she goes into one-sided monologue we see that Billie is quite the chatterbox. Potter uses the character’s boisterous personality to project her voice so that the belly laughs resound all around. Wearing a pair of Beats headphones throughout, it is an unusual yet intriguing get up. She delves into several stories about her youthful escapades, touching on themes of recreational drug use and casual sex. The stage is on the same level as the audience, and as Potter sits and describes this woman’s life, her gaze is unnerving.
One poignantly raw moment is when Billie describes her abortion: “Big black empty hole in my stomach”. Reverting to her younger years, a fragile and affected youngster is depicted, and she shares with us the harrowing gang rape of her friend, which she talks about with a deep sense of quiet, matter of fact.
Music is scarcely used, heard only once when the character recounts her mother’s death. Instead the lights are utilised to change the mood. Billie seems to have experienced it all: post natal depression, domestic abuse at the hands of her partner on her children, dependency on drugs and the effect it had on her mother. This one tale is in fact made up of several stories from real women, which the performer used as her inspiration.
A State of Mind is humbling, and Potter truly delivers as a strong and sensitive older woman.
Photo: Spur of the Moment / Twitter
A State of Mind was at Tristan Bates Theatre from 8th until 12th August 2017.
For further information about Camden Fringe Festival 2017 visit the website here.