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And Now: The World! review at Hackney Showroom – ‘quirky, cringe-inducing’

Jennifer Jackson in And Now: The World! Photo: Flavia Fraser-Cannon Jennifer Jackson in And Now: The World! Photo: Flavia Fraser-Cannon

The strangest thing about this one-woman show is that it seems to assume the perspective that we empathise with the character on stage, when in fact she is a really odd person.

It’s not quite clear whether we are supposed to be entertained by her quirky, cringe-inducing personality, along the lines of David Brent in The Office, or – and this is quite a chilling thought – that we are actually supposed to identify with some of her character traits.

We never discover her name, but she’s a 20-something living in London with her two flatmates and she seems to be a little agoraphobic. The one-hour show bills itself as “darkly comic” and there are some funny lines, but the central character is an undeniably annoying, self-absorbed, pretentious, needy, approval-seeking shambles.

She can’t do anything spontaneously (unless drunk) and the her assumption that everyone approaches life with as much analysis, contempt and trepidation as she does is exhausting. She wallows in her alternativeness – it’s a portrayal of a realistic character, but not necessarily someone you’d want to spend a whole hour with.

Jennifer Jackson takes on the role with enthusiasm and the physical, agile side of the performance is very impressive, making expert use of Sarah Beaton’s stylishly streamlined set. But the content will only strike the right note with a very particular type of person – and that person definitely wasn’t writing this review.

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A one-hour journey into the psyche of a nose-bleedingly self-obsessed character that apparently we’re all supposed to identify with