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Theatre Review: Super Duper Close Up @ The Yard Theatre

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The actress is standing centre stage wearing a green metallic dress, her sneakers planted on a pink glittery carpet. She isn’t smiling. As she starts speaking, a robot-like stream of consciousness leaves her lips, with the “whatever attitude” of the millennial. But behind her remoteness there is a commitment and humour that quickly catches the audience.

This is the theatre duo Made in China’s production Super Duper Close Up. A one-woman show about anxiety and the modern world. The performer Jess Latowicky breaks the rules and takes us through the internal monologue, of a normal 21st century woman suffering from anxiety.

The stage is overly glittery, with a pink carpet, a picture of waterfall, fake flowers and a big video screen hanging over it. The sweet 'girlie' design by Emma Bailey is contrasted by the voice of Jess Latowicky, talking about irrational fears, “social media scroll” addiction and living in a world where youth is everything. The contrast between the set design and the subject of the piece seems a way to show the contrast between what people try to project on the outside and on social media, versus how they are actually feeling.

The piece takes us through the woman’s thought patterns while waiting for a business meeting, at the wedding of the social media perfect couple and her nightmares. As her anxiety grows, the first stiffness of the character changes, and Latowicki shows an unnerving vulnerability.

By an amazing scene, illustrating a skin cleaning routine, hilariously done in the style of a French commercial, combined with a dance routine, the piece manages to make sense of how the inner pace of anxiety contrasts with the outer pace of it.

A camera operator, Valentina Formentini, zooms in on the performer, and the video is projected up on the big screen. Giving us the promised close up of the anxious woman.

This is a section that really works, as the extreme dancing also helps the character build up a sweat and a struggle for breath, that makes her final confrontation with her big fear, karaoke, so much more believable. Unfortunately the break in the sharp monologue becomes a little long, and the effect would have been the same had it been half the time.

The Dramaturg Tim Cowbury, in collaboration with creator and performer Jess Latowicki, have created a very relevant piece which forces the audience to look at themselves. Question their own anxieties, social media behaviour and addiction. The only thing missing  is a bit of tightening up, as the show becomes a little longer than necessary.

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