Omnibus Theatre, London – until 30 April 2022
Gloria (Debra Baker) has taken refuge in her attic, distracting herself from the dark winter months and grief by playing punk and dictating entries for her memoir into her laptop.
She is crabby to all those who come and visit: her husband Graham (Kevin N Golding), her best friend Magda (Izabella Urbanowicz) and unfaithful neighbour Daniel (Lucas Hare) who climbs through the Velux window for sex.
Victoria Willing‘s play SAD explores various coping mechanisms for dealing with the challenges, frustrations and trials of life. Gloria chooses to lock herself away. Graham gets angry, sometimes channelling it into a protest, sometimes punching people. Meanwhile, Magda is scared and disappointed and planning to run away.
The problem is that Gloria is such a difficult central character to spend time with. Rather than a sympathetic portrayal of a middle-aged woman grieving the loss of her mum, feeling the absence of her daughter who has emigrated, and that she’s generally failed at life, we instead see someone who is just bitter and peevish.
There is little to show what her husband and friend love about her and keep them supporting her. In fact, we don’t really get under the skin of Gloria much at all, as she generally shuts down most conversations.
It is the people and events happening around her that turn out to be more interesting.
Housing office Daniel is a toxic male, abusing his position of responsibility. Graham is a recovering alcoholic who wants to make the world a better place. And Magda wants to use her qualifications and be accepted in the country she’s lived in for more than a decade.
Well-acted, Willing’s play has some interesting things to say about some of lifes struggles in an unfair society, but it is let down by its one-dimensional central character.
I’m giving it ⭐️⭐️⭐️.
SAD, Omnibus Theatre
Written by Victoria Willing
Directed by Marie McCarthy
Running time 90 minutes without an interval.
Booking until 30 April; for more details and to book tickets, head to Omnibus Theatre’s website.
The Fever Syndrom, Hampstead Theatre – witty remarks amid a cacophony of themes
The Human Voice, Harold Pinter Theatre – Ruth Wilson is transfixing
Under The Radar, Old Red Lion – mismatched and odd
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.@VickWilling’s new #SADplay ‘has some interesting things to say about some of life’s struggles in an unfair society’, says @RevStan. It’s at London’s @OmnibusTheatre til 30 Apr. ★★★ #OffWestEnd #newwriting #theatrereviews