• By Kate Nora
  • |
  • 13th Aug 2019
  • |
  • ★★★★★

How did the first person to watch Phoebe Waller-Bridge perform Fleabag feel; confused, enlightened, so profoundly altered they could barely put words to it? Jodie Irvine’s original play is an unforgettable series of lightning bulb moments and key insights into the human condition. Everyone has experienced at least a sliver of what this young woman is going through—wanting some attention, caring too much about what other people think, having weird thoughts that sometimes spill over. What better way to explore those topics than in the guise of a chatty character who can’t help sharing everything she feels?

Irvine proves she is both an exceptional writer and natural-born performer, neatly packaged in an emerald jumpsuit.

Through Gobby, Irvine proves she is both an exceptional writer and natural-born performer, neatly packaged in an emerald jumpsuit. Most theatrical performances involve a certain suspension of belief—that is not required here. Irvine is completely believable and genuine in her portrayal of Bri (like the cheese), a young woman lashing out at the people in her life who didn’t notice she was drowning, and her script is chock full of witty anecdotes and penetrating observations about human nature that indicate an underlying wisdom far beyond her years.

Through five parties, Bri rediscovers her voice and learns to find the balance between speaking up for herself and taking the time to listen. Irvine is magnetic. She flits from monologue, to narration, to conversation⁠—playing each and every character—back to introspective examination, and beyond. In between her awkward conversations with other party guests and inner monologue, Bri is just a young woman who feels profoundly changed and doesn’t know who to blame, or how to get back to who she was before.

Various party props are scattered across the stage, but they’re not just there for decoration. Cone hats become cocktail shakers, balloons become pizza dough, and party horns become a moustache. Part of the fun of Gobby is seeing how the creative team will use these items in the next scene. Poppers mark the beginning of each new party and are used as stand-ins for those kind of frustrating interactions that need a little gunpowder.

Fitting about two years of dramatic life changes into one hour is no easy feat. When we first meet Bri she is a victim of circumstance. By the time we leave, she is back behind the wheel. Irvine’s mixture of observational humour, impersonations and rapid speech carry us along while each act brings noticeable changes in her character. She is growing and evolving, as we all do throughout the course of our lives. We could use the caterpillar metamorphosis analogy, but she very particularly said she didn’t want to be compared to a butterfly.

There is a lot of talent at the Fringe, but Jodie Irvine is one of a kind. Go see Gobby during its limited run, and we can all pat ourselves on the back in a few years time when its star receives her inevitable Olivier award.

Reviews by Kate Nora

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Since you’re here…

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You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
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The Blurb

Bri is not who she used to be, so she's revisiting the five parties that changed her. Gobby is a playlist of awkward encounters, starting over and growing up. A biting and heartfelt odyssey about what it really means to be loud, this new play is a darkly comic telling of survival, an exploration of self-awareness and a lesson in how to throw a really good party. ***** ‘A phoenix rising from the popped balloons and empty cups, Gobby is raw, triumphant and a soaring one-woman odyssey’ (StageWhispersReviews.wixsite.com). **** (RemoteGoat.com). 'Pure genius' **** (NorthWestEnd.co.uk).

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