#3 Leyla Josephine: Hopeless

Theatre ( Solo, Spoken Word ) Werks 1, Sweet Werks

A one-woman spoken word show from Leyla Josephine on the theme of hopelessness and powerlessness as manifest in the present day young. Josephine herself very much included.

Josephine is a confident performer, making the most of the minimalist bed in which we encounter her buried and unwilling to take on the adult world. Literally getting up and out of the bed is an easy device, but works nicely much thanks to the excellent voice-over calls from the off-stage crew. Josephine shares stories of her life and manages to be upstanding, with a steady voice and a certain deviance in her eyes.

Josephine has seen the world some, and tells of her refugee volunteering, of the haunting faces of the children without guidance she had to leave behind. She tells of her inspirations, her heroes in catastrophe films and closer to home. How exciting it would be to follow in their footsteps, she wonders.

Hopeless is a simple call to action. A poetic one, if perhaps a little too ironic and self-conscious about it. Josephine builds nice rapport with the audience, and the pace is fine, but she doesn't end up punching all that hard. When the show should elevate, Josephine turns inward at her own experience.

The main issue with the show is that it takes the hopeless ennui as a given and does nothing to explore its causes or dynamics. Even the antidote is delivered in an oblique, matter of fact way. If you do stuff, something simple, and get out of your comfort zone, you can get yourself out of the bed. Well, yes, that's the easy (and important!) first step, but what then?

In the age of Jordan Peterson's myth-inspired calls, and scathing analyses of our times like Mark Fisher's, Josephine's study of hopelessness has little to offer beyond the positive spirit of a self-help book.

But then again, that's a great start for many.