Last Updated on 2nd November 2023
Paul T Davies reviews I Really Do Think This Will Change Your Life at Mercury Theatre Colchester.
I Really Do Think This Will Change Your Life.
Mercury Theatre, Colchester
1 November 2023
Social Influencers tend to not evoke much sympathy. It’s a strange world they live in, of products, fakery, and a rolling social media profile that emphasises the positivity in every aspect of life! Emma-Louise Howell’s play takes us beyond the hashtags Belle was popular when she was 17, but now, at 24, she lives with her Mum, has few prospects and even less following an incident at a child’s birthday party when another Disney Princess gets there before her. Into her DMs comes an offer, basically a pyramid selling scheme, which she is assured will change her life.
Performed by Howell herself, her script pops and pings with the urgency of the emojis that break out all over her social media, witty and sharp, very satirical of our social media age. The first ten minutes or so are an absolute comedy delight, and there’s a terrific running gag of the massages left on the fridge door by her mother. Possibly, Howell sets her stall out too soon, as it becomes clear that there is only one way Belle can go, which is up and very swiftly down. The play could lose a few minutes, the urgency of the beginning lessens halfway through, and Belle rarely looks beyond her own needs. A subplot of a falling out with her best friend is also less than promised, fizzling out. This takes nothing away from the quality of the script, her voice is strong and full of potential.
This is not a solo performance though, she is beautifully in sync with video designer Matt Powell’s vibrant images and storytelling, and director Hetty Hodgson keeps the pace lively. I have seen many productions this year that incorporate social media and screens into the text, some less successful than others, and this is certainly one of the most successful. Where the script is really strong is in its forensic look at the harm, and self-harm, of social media, and the malignant grip it has on many young people.