Ah… growing up. Allowing emotion to take the place of logic. Experiencing friendships evolve into a partnership or a loss. Flirting by sharing facts about the fear of being murdered. We’ve all been there, haven’t we?
Written and performed by Jodie Irvine, and directed by Serafina Cusack, Gobby cleverly intertwines past experiences of friendship and self-discovery to illustrate the growth of one woman, Bri (like the cheese, and short for Brianna). The narrative follows Bri’s journey to self-acceptance as she attends five parties over two years. Each party explores a new theme from loneliness to awareness. Whilst Gobby is a one-woman production, numerous characters comically evolve through party-hat wearing balloons, animated party poppers and surprisingly accurate Welsh accents.
It can be difficult to achieve a complimentary balance between tragedy and humour within a dark-comedy, yet Gobby successfully achieves this. And, that’s not from the opening Macklemore song. Reluctantly accepting her role as a lone-wolf, tragedy is incorporated through Bri’s internal struggle as she hosts the first party. Narrating her inner journey, Bri frequently breaks the fourth wall interrupting the pace of the story with awkwardly hilarious, and well-timed interjections. This invitation for audience involvement strengthens our helpless desire to support Bri. Therefore, the introduction of her saviour and best-friend-to-be, Beth, is heavily welcomed as she guides Bri to self-acceptance. Throughout the performance, Irvine’s impressive skills as a writer and performer are proven as she successfully plays with the rooms dynamics dictating the audiences character judgement.
Whilst the narrative follows the journey to internal self-awareness, it also touches on the importance of friendship. I couldn’t help wondering whether Bri would have grown without the assistance of her best friend, Beth. Furthermore, had she actually achieved self-awareness, or would she build upon her self-discovery in years to come? Fully immersed in the world of Gobby, as an audience member, I was left wanting more. Whilst the play succeeded in theatre, these post-production questions demonstrated a potential future for Gobby as a televised comedy-drama. Already, I’m already hoping for a second series.
In terms of influence, there is a stark contrast between Irvine’s Gobby, and Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag; both titled after self-exposing nicknames. Given the depth of inner exploration, both storylines have led me to question whether they are autobiographical. It takes deep internal intellect to fully understand self-progression. The fact Irvine was able to clearly articulate this within Gobby demonstrates her impressive talents as a writer and performer.
It’s a high expectation for a party, yet alone a Comedy-Drama play, to further your own personal growth. Having experienced tears, laughter, and internal analysis, Gobby felt fantastically therapeutic. It really is a must see.
With the growing popularity, invitations to the party are likely to sell out soon. Grab your ticket by RSVP’ing below.