Juliette Burton’s show, as brought to us in 2017, is framed by the chaos theory and concept that a small action can have major consequences at a later point. And this edict provides the backdrop for us to explore the notion of ‘kindness’, with Burton posing the question of whether kindness can indeed change the world.
Burton has put amazing research and production into this performance.
Burton then voyages through an array of personal moments where small acts of kindness were shown to her, reassuring her that humanity had her back. As she chronicles the previous year of her life, where a perfect storm of unfortunate events cause her to emotional unravel, we experience Burton’s ability to find kindness even when she is incapable of being kind to herself. Burton’s journey is peppered with parodies juxtaposed with pensively, as she reels off the various mental health diagnoses she has experienced since childhood. Alongside Burton’s struggle to survive through compulsions, being sectioned and suicidal ideation is her struggle with her family. This seems like a massive black elephant in the room, often referred to but never quite fully explored. One has to wonder what the cause and effect is between Burton’s mental health issues and her clearly difficult relationship with her family, though the audience is only gifted to the smallest glimpse of this dynamic.
Burton’s delivery ranges from the sedate to the downright manic, a technique we presume is deliberate, reflecting that she herself states that she 'is chaos’. At times demure and apologetic, at others raucously enteraining, Burton fully uses the whole theatre to creep round curtains and traverse through the crowds to engage in audience interaction. This isn’t the strongest part of the show, but it does provide a change of tempo which keeps us on our toes.
The material didn’t always flow, due to Burton travelling on tangents and also her evident trauma when some gags didn’t fall quite as intended. Her response to some of the material falling flatter than intended served to shake the atmosphere she’d built up, creating a needy persona the audience felt compelled to nurture and reassure. One gets the impression that the show is a form of catharsis for Burton, and this certainly provides an entertaining and enlightened hour of material for us to enjoy. However I wonder if the constant change of pitch detracts from the theme she intended to flow throughout, which was about kindness.
Burton does pull this back toward the end, as she gives a call to arms for audience members to read the #daretobekind slips she issued at the start of the show, and to pay these forward. We are then gifted to some video clips of previous audience members discussing their #daretobekind moments. Burton has put amazing research and production into this performance, and had laid herself bare for her audience. We definitely leave with a sense of inspiration in wanting to be better people and of creating our own butterfly effect.