VAULT Festival, The Vaults, London – until 25 February 2018
Alice and her husband moved house from a bustling city to sleepy Berkhamsted just six weeks ago. She can’t wait to make new friends and get stuck into all that village life offers, even though her new home is hardly trendy like Margate, and none of her friends are willing to visit. The only thing undermining her positivity is that faithful companion Anxiety has relocated with her and threatens to ruin everything.
This two-person musical has a basic structure but a big heart. Alice (Alice Keedwell) and Anxiety (Harry Blake) effectively contrast each other with heaps of enthusiasm and perkiness (the former) and a dry, sardonic deadpan (the later). Staging and set are minimal, but Keedwell is an engaging storyteller that draws out audience sympathy for her near-constant crises of confidence.
The turning point is predictable but still manages to warm the heart because Alice is such a lovely, relatable (albeit white, middle-class) character. Blake’s brief, cutting lines are hilarious; he provides more of an element of surprise but they interact with ease, generating light tension. Bigger conflicts would give the piece more excitement, though even though it gently mocks the stereotypes of little England life.
I Have a Bad Feeling About This is charming and sweet without being saccharine. The stakes are low; Alice’s struggles come out of daily, routine tasks rather than elephantine obstacles. It’s generally the opposite of what normally makes good theatre. But intimacy and interaction with the audience makes this more of a conversation rather than high drama. With an easy simplicity, the show works by tapping into the slightly sentimental core of even the hardest of hearts.
I Have a Bad Feeling About This runs through 25 February.