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“Breffni holahan is mesmeric”

Essie is losing her grip. She’s lost her job and split with her girlfriend. She feels like one of those folding chairs.

Margaret Perry’s play about a woman coming apart transcends the limitations of the solo-show format. The writing is luminescent and often startling.

It’s the details that make it sing: the things Essie notices as she attends spirit-sapping job interview after job interview and endures passive-aggressive dinners with her well-meaning sister and her “punchable” boyfriend.

Thomas Martin, who also directed the magnificently unsettling Ross and Rachel in 2015, brings a similar sensibility to this production. He places Essie on a pedestal, designed by Alison Neighbour, so her feet don’t ever touch the ground. She looks like an exhibit. Every time she moves the pedestal crumbles a little.

Breffni Holahan is mesmeric as Essie. A little wide-eyed even in the beginning, her performance builds gradually in intensity. Her breathing quickens; her skin glistens. She pivots on her pedestal, struggling to maintain a facade of intactness and solidity as her world shrinks around her.

Perry writes with clarity and insight about mental unravelling but, like Holahan, she achieves a wonderful balancing act. In the last few minutes the play pulls out its trump card, a reminder that we’re not alone and that hope and help can come from the most unexpected places.

Ross and Rachel


Related to this Review

Ross and RachelRoss and Rachel

Production Details
Production nameCollapsible
VenueAssembly Roxy
StartsAugust 1, 2019
EndsAugust 25, 2019
Running time1hr 10mins
AuthorMargaret Perry
DirectorThomas Martin
Set designerAlison Neighbour
Lighting designerAlex Fernandez
Sound designerJon Mcleod
CastBreffni Holahan
ProducerEllie Keel, HighTide
VerdictHypnotically performed play about one woman’s gradually unravelling
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Natasha Tripney

Natasha Tripney

Natasha Tripney

Natasha Tripney

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