Rosie Wilby: The Conscious Uncoupling

We’ve all been dumped. Rosie Wilby establishes this from the get-go and those afraid to admit it have come to the wrong show. Mixing theatre, storytelling, spoken word and gentle comedy, the show takes a retrospective look at Rosie’s real life relationship and why she has chosen to exhume it for in-depth analysis.

fans of Wilby, and those who still yearn for that special lost lover, will no doubt love it

Meeting the ghosts of this relationship past, present and future via a sheet, a torch and plastic sword, Rosie takes us on a personal journey, beginning with the break-up email she received from her lover coming as a complete shock. With some reflective music, a chair and a folder, she analyses the early days, describing with beautifully lyrical language the beginnings of a fledgling attraction, through the consuming obsession of full blown love, into the complications of the relationship being hidden from her partner’s parents before ending with classic ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ excuse for bringing the relationship to an end.

Gwyneth Paltrow is cited as the inspiration for Rosie dredging up the past, although this seems rather a tentative hook. Gwynnie was responsible for introducing a brand new phrase into the world’s vocabulary after she announced her ‘Conscious Uncoupling’ from husband Chris Martin. Rosie encourages us to strive for our own conscious uncoupling, to break up better and remain friends with our past loves. However the ghost of relationships future predicts the ability to terminate an ex by vaporizing, a far kinder ending than receiving a Tweet or facebook status.

And so we come to the real reason Rosie Wilby has chosen to rake up the past: the facebook status that sent her down the path of re-examination. It is sad when relationships end and it’s even worse when this is due to an unknown infidelity. We don’t all have the luxury or ability to turn it into an evening’s entertainment, most of the time, it’s a good friend, a bottle of wine and a box of Kleenex that gets us through. For Rosie, her therapy is airing her secrets in public and letting us all have a jolly good laugh at them.

A comparative analysis of a variety of break-ups would have seemed less indulgent, and this microscopic examination of just one person, who is obviously the one that got away, comes across as the performer’s version of a Taylor Swift revenge album track. The most enjoyable moments were when we see Wilby shine as a stand up, improvising comments to the crowd and using her expressive facial expressions to great comic effect. Whilst the conclusion of the show felt rushed and unclear fans of Wilby, and those who still yearn for that special lost lover, will no doubt love it. 

Reviews by Christine Kempell

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The Blurb

Radio 4 regular poignantly interweaves comedy, memoir, old love letters and breakup emails to investigate the aftermath of a separation. "Brilliant piece about doing break-ups kindly" (Female Arts)