We all have our stories – the anecdotes we share at dinner tables and bars and pass down the generations, the tales we keep to ourselves and close to our hearts, and global narratives which link us all together. As a human race, stories are our fuel – we’ve been telling them for thousands of years – it’s how we socialise and connect to others.
Narratives are (unsurprisingly) the focus point of Beyond Face’s ‘2000 Stories’, an engrossing piece of theatre brought to life through Shiquerra Robertson, who plays protagonist Selina. Director Alix Harris takes a modern tactic of breaking the fourth wall and uses it to craft a well-considered relationship between actor and viewer; it doesn’t feel like Selina is talking to the audience, but rather interacting with us. In her role, Robertson is as effortless as a hot knife through butter. We relate to her as she comes home from work and offloads the micro-agressions of work, family, and the current socio-economic-political climate.
For me, Robertson’s performance is complimented by a strategically designed set. A modern, bold, printed wallpaper rolls up and down the walls, and a contrasting armchair-for-one stands against it. Post-it notes stick on a desk and a cork board as books collectively sprawl across the space; it’s nuanced, and makes obvious the character traits Selina gradually brings to the surface.
2000 Stories is an enrapturing exposé of how much information we are exposed to as a society. Televised news channels constantly cycle, news apps light up our phone, social media is an ongoing birth of fresh news and skewed information. I’ve personally felt a responsibility to hoover up these stories in an effort to be informed and converse with my peers, but where do we draw the line? How much information is an acceptable amount to hold in your head? What is going to happen to a society constantly overcome by terrifying, gut-wrenching news?
Watching Selina deteriorate into a state of panic and anxiety is resounding. We see her constantly tug with morality and ethics, while punishing herself for forgetting things such as ‘the situation in Yemen.’ I want to run and hug her, to tell her to reach for the stars and accept her new job offer, to set boundaries with her brother, and that it’s okay to put the laptop away and stop digesting the never-ending news cycle. This is an enormous credit to everyone at Beyond Face (including enormously talented director Alix Harris and fantastic producer Helen Bovey) who identify as ‘a performance company based in Plymouth whose aim is to raise the profile and increase visibility of professionals and young people of colour in theatre and dance across the South West.’