All on Her Own
The notoriously versatile Janie Dee articulates grief with volume in a digital revival of the late Sir Terence Rattigan’s one-woman show. Last seen in the West End in 2015, All on Her Own is a brief but chilling monologue, featuring a dead husband, a trusty decanter of whisky and a woman crumbling under unfathomable burdens.
“What time did you die?” penetrates the air with a clarity that eventually frays like the seams of Rosemary Hodge’s classy demeanour. A clinical ambience awaits her return from a party (an acoustic setting that later serves to amplify her voice). She seems fearful of her own home, or rather, its emptiness. When widow meets whisky, the audience meets her dead husband Gregory as the Northern grunt with which she begins to impersonate him.
Plunging into the past, Rosemary converses with “Gregory”, retracing the night of his death and their marriage, which has taken on new meaning in retrospect. Though it isn’t clear if the character’s embodiment of Gregory is possession or a verbalisation her own mind, the fluctuating timelines and overlapping presences make for an unnerving, but no less alluring intimacy. The camera gradually positions itself as though it is the other person, who is, of course, changing as fast as viewers can follow.
Rosemary manifests not only the accent but the earthy nature of Gregory (complete with a resentment of upper-class values), revealing their stark differences and implying her self-identification as the superior breed. These references emphasise the weight of her denied love, which thickens in the air with every refill of whisky, each shakier than the last. In trying to fill the gaps in the truth, Rosemary sheds light on things she didn’t know about her husband, threatening the foundations of her internal narratives and fuelling her guilt. It is touching as the widow fumbles for her husband’s common expressions, which have, to her aggravation, slipped from her memory. Dee is exceptional in her ability to submerge viewers in Rosemary’s headspace – an uneasy place to be, with its volatile lapses in sanity.
All on Her Own is barely 30 minutes, but it’s worth the watch, even if only to soak up the wonders of Janie Dee, who illustrates with true potency the wounds solitude only deepens.
Photo: Danny Kaan
All on Her Own is available to livestream via stream.theatre from 16th February until 21st February 2021. For further information or to book visit the stream.theatre’s website here.