MorbidAbnormalMe

The basement of the Blue Man is a cosy Aladdin’s cave of a space, all cushions and tapestries and tasteful lighting. As the show began I was concerned that the burbling from the upstairs bar would prove distracting, but overall the venue felt like a comforting, homely space - apt for a show about finding solace in the face of debilitating anxiety.

It is refreshing to see a show dealing with a serious topic that equally does not take itself too seriously

The MorbidAbormalMe of the title is Shea, who is aided in this autobiographical performance by her best friend, Nora, both of them resplendent in matching red onesies. Despite graduating from the same Canadian drama school, they only became friends when they both moved to France to continue their theatre studies. (They don’t mention it in the show, but the locale was the prestigious École Philippe Gaulier.)

Ever since she can remember, Shea has suffered from a preoccupation with her own mortality. Death is latent in every thunderstorm, every dog’s bark, every anticipated beat of her heart. This is what anxiety does; it takes quotidian fears and magnifies them until they loom unmanageably large.“Mental illness,” comments Nora, gazing fondly at her friend supine on the floor, “We all have our experiences of it”.

That mental health struggles are universal is undoubtedly true – and commendable to acknowledge - yet this is resolutely Shea’s story. What is the origin of her persistent fear of death? How has her anxiety affected her life? And how can those who love her offer support, while remaining unaffected themselves? These are the questions this show attempts to answer, as Shea re-enacts the most anxious moments of her childhood, with Nora alternately assuming the role of doctor, parent, or friend. Throughout, we hear recorded snippets of Shea’s real-life parents, boyfriend, and sister – a theatrical device which serves to broaden the scope of the show beyond these two (very talented) performers. However, MorbidAbnormalMe is often most powerful when words fall away and the pair move to music, their fluid, playful gestures and poses testifying to their alma mater.

It is refreshing to see a show dealing with a serious topic that equally does not take itself too seriously. Both Shea and Nora are very personable performers, and goofy props – a snorkel, leaves, those scarlet onesies –lighten the atmosphere. The ending, when it comes, is surprising, apt and very touching. I came away thinking more about friendship and the delights of connection than I did about the prospect of my own death. And the noise from upstairs? Not an issue. As with anxiety itself, good company was enough to temporarily tune it out.

Reviews by Catherine O'Sullivan

Brighton Spiegeltent

Joe Black: Meet Me At The Eldorado

★★★★
Rialto Theatre

Cinebra: A History Of Horror

★★★★
Sweet St Andrew's

I Will Carry You Over Hard Times

★★★★
The Warren: Studio 3

Hurricane Michael

★★★
Brighton Spiegeltent: Bosco

Help! I Think I Might Be Fabulous

★★★★★
Old Police Cells Museum

The Brighton Killers

★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

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.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

A show about trying to live when you always think you're about to die. Witness the evolution of one girl’s morbid, abnormal, and persistent fear turn into anecdotes, punchlines and clowning around. It's a story about growing up, managing mental health and, above all, learning to laugh at yourself.

Most Popular See More

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Frozen the Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

SIX

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets