Life & Culture

Theatre review: Reasons You Should (n’t) Love Me

John Nathan is impressed by Amy Trigg's fizzing one woman show


I am an example of the kind of lazy thinker that writer/performer Amy Trigg and other disabled people have encountered all their lives.

As much as I was looking forward to returning to Kiln Theatre after a year of pandemic-induced theatre drought, I admit there is a limit to how excited I generally get about the prospect of a monologue. Granted, there are some mesmerising single person shows out there as proved by Bridge Theatre’s A German Life and its entire season of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads last year. But when it comes to one-dimensional, dramatically inert theatre the monologue is, shall we say, well represented.

Add to this my expectation that a memoir about disability is bound to be of the misery kind and I’ve set myself up perfectly to have my nose rubbed in my own lazy assumptions. Because you could not hope for a more life-affirming evening to herald theatre’s return than Trigg’s fizzing one woman show, her debut.

She plays Juno who like Trigg herself has been in a wheelchair since the age of eight because of spina bifida. The disease informs every aspect of Juno’s life we learn, though often because of the way able-bodied people think of her.

A childhood game of kiss and chase results in the her being the only child who is neither kissed nor chased. When the children and their parents gather outside Juno’s home with “Kisses for Juno” or “We Love Juno” signs it made her feel special, but in “all the wrong ways.”

Platonic and romantic relationships are candidly conveyed. The time sex with the longed-for Justin ended in humiliation because of a spina bifida symptom unsurprisingly does damage to self-esteem. Yet Juno shows how moments such as these has also built a resilience that allows her to share the funny — often very funny — side to events that others might crush others.

Her antidote to everything that life can throw is platonic friend Simon, the kind of friend with whom you can decide how to spend an evening with rock, paper, scissors.

Their respective experiments with Tinder are delivered by Juno with the timing of a seasoned comic. Her first message was from Jeff, accompanied by a bare-chested selfie with a tiger— an image that sears itself into the memory like a mechanic’s calender.

All this comedy and suffering is filtered through Trigg’s irresistible charm and lipsticked smile. It slips only occasionally when she recalls the toll spina bifida took on her eight-year-old self. And although Charlotte Bennett’s sure footed production resolves with a shmaltzy life lesson, the real moral here is don’t be led by lazy assumptions.

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