Losing My Mindfulness offers an amusing and uncomfortable send-up of the self-help nation we have become. Alongside an array of ‘Improve Your Life’ books, Katie McLeod plays an HR representative running a workshop for her colleagues on staying positive under stress. Unfortunately, it is over the course of this very workshop that a series of interjectional phone calls cause her life to unravel before our eyes. Beneath the comedy, McLeod’s performance asks powerful questions on where self-doubt comes from. It becomes clear that the self-improvements we believe would make us happier are not always what we think they are.
Losing My Mindfulness is a stressful viewing experience,
McLeod’s writing is at its funniest when she offers moments of spoof on mindfulness and its limitations. Her asides to ‘co-workers’ in the room, including passive aggressive remarks against ‘Ashley’, are simply hilarious. McLeod also shows skill for encouraging audience participation when she asks us to take part in some self-help exercises which border on ridiculous. As more and more stress is laid on the character, she manages to make the small venue feel like a pressure cooker with an explosion waiting to happen.
Losing My Mindfulness comes short of delivering its potential poignancy due to a somewhat bumpy transition into the theme of coercive control. McLeod cleverly reveals details of a difficult relationship gradually over the course of phone calls, but the awkwardness detracted from emotional intensity here. In addition, McLeod turned her back to the audience and looked down during these moments, which unfortunately created somewhat of a wall between us and her. Had she delivered all of these monologues directly to the audience, they could have been more effective.
Losing My Mindfulness is, altogether, a stressful viewing experience, but extremely clever. Thanks to its overwhelming awkwardness, we are very present in the moment, just as mindfulness methods ask us to be. McLeod has created a challenging yet amusing performance.