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Theatre Review: Quarter Life Crisis

This autumn, Bridge Theatre, began showcasing several socially distant performances including monologues from playwrights like Inua Ellams, (Barbershop Chronicles, Three Sisters) and Harry Potter actor, Ralph Fiennes. BBC's notable series, Talking Heads has also been adapted for the stage, with prominent actresses like Tamsin Greig and Imelda Stanton. And the one I was most intrigued by Yolanda Mercy's Quarter Life Crisis.

Yolanda Mercy is a London playwright and actress of Nigerian descent. She developed Quarter Life Crisis back in 2016 and was selected to have it run at the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival the following year. Since then, the show received rave reviews and Yolanda went on to produce adapted versions for the stage and radio.

Yolanda plays the character, Alicia Adewale, a 25-year-old Londoner who is clinging onto her youth, unsure when and how she will become a grown up. With her 26th birthday approaching, Alicia cannot help but compare her life to her family and friend’s success. Cousins getting married, having children and colleagues leaving the zero-hour contract role for a salaried job with paid holidays. Alicia, who is still very dependent on her mum (and Siri!) wonders when it will be her turn. Through spoken word, she expresses her confusion on how to transition into adulthood.

Not only did I want to see this play, I need to see it. I happen to be at the age where one would have their “quarter life crisis," and the synopsis alone was enough to make me wonder: “is this a performance about my life?” Post university led to me growing extremely anxious about entering the ‘adult world’, and I was desperate to be like the other 20 something-year-olds I saw on social media, convinced I needed to have my career, a house, and a spouse sorted by 25.

The play provides an honest glance into the life of a millennial; with clever rhymes and comical lines, accompanied by catchy club tunes throughout. Yolanda Mercy has perfectly summed us up in this humorous and engaging performance.

Director, Jade Lewis, also did a wonderful job with the set. The stage’s digital backdrop was two bright, illuminated screens of Alicia’s mobile phone, where we were shown her Netflix home-screen, funny texts from her cousin and numerous missed calls. I even cackled at the accurate depiction of the Tinder app and the embarrassing messages Alicia received. The screens acted as a visual storytelling tool as the clips and images that appeared, delved deeper into Alicia’s life and her background. What I found endearing was the portrayal of Alicia’s Nigerian heritage. I appreciated the subtle touches such as the Ankara pillow on stage and the silhouette of a gele being tied. Also, the mention of Alicia’s family history, as she would detail what her ancestors were doing at the age of 25. Alicia is proud of the success her family accomplished when they were young, however, it seems she feels under pressure to follow in those footsteps and discover her sense of responsibility.

The monologue was just under an hour, but I wished it were longer as it was so enjoyable! I had missed the atmosphere of being in a theatre and it felt amazing to be back. Being able to watch a production written, directed, and performed by black women, left me feeling honoured and inspired. Supporting the arts is important now, more than ever.

After a stint of sold out shows, I was pleased to discover Bridge Theatre have added extra shows throughout November – so grab your mask and go check ‘Quarter Life Crisis’ out!


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