Collapsible follows the story of Essie, who at the outset feels like she’s crumbling. She feels solid one minute, then nothing the next. After the loss of her job, her girlfriend and life as she knows it, what has she got left to hold onto?
Well worth a watch for anyone interested in raw, emotional theatre
The set design, by Alison Neighbour, is exceptional. Essie sits atop a crumbling stone plinth for the duration of the play. As she moves, it sheds bits of stone, dust and rock on the floor around her. Alongside this are three angular metal spears of different lengths jutting towards her, giving the impression that she is in a cage of sorts. The elevated nature of Essie works well with the tiered seating of the venue, bringing her to the height of most of the audience. Particularly when she describes herself as “feet firmly on the ground,” we see that this is not the case – both literally and metaphorically.
Breffni Holahan’s performance as Essie is raw and full of pure talent. She conveys every conversation and emotion in a way that makes you feel like you are right there with her. Scrambling around the small surface area of the plinth, the way she holds her body (sitting, standing, lying across it) reflects the story being told at the time.
There are definitely Fleabag-esque vibes to Collapsible, but it works better as a one-woman theatre performance. There’s no awkward looks to the camera, but the same emotion and feeling of being lost are there. Many people can relate to the feeling of isolation that mental illness causes, and this is clearly indicated in the play. However I felt that the issue of mental health is danced around and not made explicitly clear. At one point it sounds like depression is being discussed, but we’re not sure exactly. In some situations this can work, but I feel if you want to talk about serious issues you need to make it clear, especially when the whole concept of the show is about losing grip on the world and falling apart.
Collapsible explores feelings that every millennial has probably felt at some point recently, and articulates things many of us don’t have the words for. Holahan’s portrayal of Essie is exemplary and makes this a worthwhile watch for anyone interested in raw, emotional theatre.