Anxiety Written

solo performance · jessica carleton · Ages 10+ · one person show · United States of America

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Review by STEVEN COOPER
July 22, 2018

tagged as: educational · dramatic · sad · funny · emotional · insightful · amazing

What I liked

These days it seems rare you can use a cliché unironically but, quite literally, I laughed, and I cried during this show. Through subtle lighting cues and excellent exposition Jessica Carleton creates moments of stomach-churning tension and then swiftly cuts through them with levity and laughter—only to plunge into despair soon after and run the entire audience through the emotional gamut over and over again. The story is simple, it’s just the truth (or at least based on it). There are no fantasy worlds or impossible scenarios but a relatable story about an experience that’s relatable even for those who haven’t struggled with anxiety on the same level. Jessica’s ability to turn a piece of her life into an engaging experience is indicative of her immense creative talent. She effortlessly shifts between characters, providing dialogue in a clear and engaging manner that feels appropriate and never pulls the viewer out of the story. It’s impossible not to be impressed with her ability to introduce an array of characters and interactions while having no one else but herself up on stage.

What I didn't like

This is the part of the review where, unexpectedly, I am at a loss for words. The show itself is astounding; Jessica Carleton is well-practiced and completely aware of what works and what wouldn’t when it comes to the content of Anxiety Written. Considering her background, I would suggest finding a better printer for the promotional materials—the cropping and paper quality was sub-par and you’d be surprised how much of a difference that can make when promoting to people on the street. Having a glossy, well-cropped flyer with good typography can really legitimize you in people’s eyes, before they’ve actually seen any of the content being promoted.

My overall impression

Anxiety Written proves that one person and a wooden crate is more than enough to create an entertaining and emotionally moving experience, as well as a lasting impression. I was skeptical when Jessica approached us outside the theatre and asked if we were interested in seeing her show—she seemed almost distraught that she had failed to promote it properly—but we had no other plans for the evening and the ticket price was right, so we stuck around. I did not expect to be whipped through maze of emotions and involuntary reactions in an hour but Anxiety Written delivers in the most beautiful way possible. After experiencing the show, it hardly seems surprising that Jessica Carleton is an award-winning writer; with nothing more than a black wooden crate, a seed of truth and her imagination she was able to transport an entire room into her childhood. At the end of the show I didn’t just feel like I knew Jessica Carleton better, I felt like I knew more about my own self than when I had walked into the theatre.

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