Not Applicable: a play about delusion and realisation.

Review by Carmel Shortall

Tom Evans and Kim Fraser’s play, Not Applicable is about yearning, isolation and friendship as well as delusion and realisation.  That might seem like quite a lot for a short play but the themes are handled lightly and with humour.

We are introduced to Ally’s world when she rushes on stage, pulling a towel from her hair, newly dyed a shocking orange.  She is in a panic because she wants to look her best for a meeting with her idol, Debbie Harry – a backstage pass has been arranged for her by her only friend, Steve, whose uncle is a music promoter.  It’s a big deal on another count: she hasn’t left her flat in nearly five years.

Gradually, we learn from Ally that she has never “fitted in” and that she was regarded as “weird and obsessive” at college.  Her phobia is not so much of open spaces but of being in public; of letting people down and being judged.  As she retreats from real life, she discovers Debbie Harry – “beautiful, talented, noticed: everything I’m not” and imaginary Debbie becomes her “soulmate” because “everybody needs a friend”.

This delusional state persists until, in the final scene of the play, she returns in a mood at once angry and hysterical but ready, finally, to face the realisation that she doesn’t have to hide indoors any longer and that she does have a very real friend at the other end of the doorbell.

Not Applicable has unfortunately finished its short run at the Etcetera Theatre but an interview with the writers and news of future projects will follow shortly.

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