In an increasingly serially monogamous society, we all the face the possibility of more serious breakups in a lifetime than ever before.
Comedian, writer and broadcaster Rosie Wilby presents her solo theatre show, The Conscious Uncoupling, 17-21 August 7.15pm at Camden People’s Theatre, as part of Camden Fringe 2016.
Rosie, who has appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Loose Ends, Summer Nights, Four Thought, Midweek, The Human Zoo and Woman’s Hour, as well as writing articles for the New Statesman, asks if we could reinvent this universally painful experience.
With a humorous touch, Rosie dissects her own breakup emails – interspersed with the visits of three ghosts from our romantic future, past and present – to reimagine how we might end relationships.
She said: “I did a London preview at The Tristan Bates Theatre in April and it had an amazing response. I was inundated with Tweets saying how lovely it was, touching and sweet, funny, honest and vulnerable. People were really moved by it. The South Bank had a producer down there, who booked me for the Festival of Love.
“My background is in comedy and before that I was a singer/songwriter. I have had sellouts at Camden Fringe in previous years at The Camden Head and lots of little venues. I have toured solo shows.
“I had one called The Science of Sex, which was a spoofy lecture about love, sexuality, attraction and sexual identity. I have appeared on Radio 4 talking about that kind of stuff. I mixed humour with the science, neuroscience and psychology behind relationships and attraction.
“I also did a show called Is Monogamy Dead? That was about fidelity and I did a survey about what counts as cheating.
So this is loosely the third part of a trilogy. I did a show about falling in love and then conflict in a long term relationship and what happens when a long-term relationship breaks up. This is more evolved into theatre and storytelling.It is still very funny but it is touching. So it is a theatre piece rather than comedy. There is that mix of honesty and poignancy. It is something we have all been through.”
Although she never thought she’d be inspired by Chris and Gwyneth, Rosie wonders if ‘conscious uncoupling’ is the way forward? If we could erase our past loves as Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey’s characters attempt to do in the film Eternal Sunshine Of The Sunshine Mind, would we eventually decide against it as they do?
Rosie continued: “As far as I know I am the first person to use ‘conscious uncoupling’ as a theatre title. Gwyneth and Chris created it as a phrase for breaking up kindly and remaining amicable. I talk about them briefly.
“There is a beautiful storytelling section where I talk about a relationship in really lyrical language, to Richard Hawley music, and people really get into that bit. But that is broken up by the fragments of emails and how technology plays a role in our relationships.
“Even a couple of years ago you only got emails when you were at your computer so there was a bit more distance and a bit more thought. Now it is instant. I am tipping my hat to the Scrooge idea of the ghost of Christmas past and the ghost of romantic past, present and future. There are little warnings of the danger of nostalgia and how you remember things but you forget really. We romanticise the past.
“We play a little bit of Coldplay music and say you should have paid attention to Chris and Gwyneth, the soldiers of love. But the ghost of romantic future has come from this bleak and desolate future where love has become a true battlefield. I have my own feelings about where we are heading and there is a dig at Tinder and how superficial that is.
“I think break-ups are interesting because we are a serially monogamous society so we tend to go through way more breakups now than we did years ago. The show combines comedy and fun with poignancy.
“I hope to take this to Edinburgh Fringe next year. It’s the first time in ages I’ve not gone. I normally do a one-off at Camden and then go to Edinburgh. But I love being in London and this is the first time I’ve done more than one night at Camden Fringe.”
The Conscious Uncoupling is written and performed by Rosie Wilby, and directed by Colin Watkeys.
For more details and tickets visit www.camdenfringe.com.