An interesting but patchy punk exploration of anxiety
This article is from 2016.
Once a vital tool for survival, anxiety has become symptomatic of the human experience. There are those for whom heightened and prolonged anxiety threatens their ability to function. Zoë Murtagh admits this in her one-woman-show created with Tory Copeland and seeks to overcome anxiety to educate, and – in a small way – incite a riot.
Sacré Blue wears its punk influence on its sleeve, from soundtrack to aesthetics: Murtagh pushes herself to her limits on stage. She explains cognitive behavioural therapy and neural pathways with confidence, and is candid about her own experiences.
Sacré Blue tries to fuse three elements: an exploration of the science behind the state of heightened anxiety, a sequence of vignettes and a personal expression of Murtagh's experiences through stream of consciousness poetry.
If that sounds like a lot to process, then it's because Sacré Blue packs a multitude of material into a gig-style set-list structure. But just as in a gig, the structure appears focused on the individual sections and fails to create a uniting arc. With so much material on display, unnecessary repetition or a lack of immediacy threatens to dissipate the energy stimulated in the engaging moments.
While this is unsatisfying, it is telling that Murtagh breaks from delivering a poetry to confess: "It's hard to reassemble a feeling into a string of words". Anxiety is battled, but the structure struggles to contain Murtagh's depth of experience.
Northern Stage at Summerhall, until 16 Aug, 2:45pm, £11 (£9).