Nothing & Everything Else/Z is for Zelda – Review – Theatre@41, York


By Gail Schuster, August 2022

A double bill of plays, both written and directed by Bethany Shilling, a talented Theatre and English Literature graduate from Lancaster University.

The first, Nothing & Everything Else is about a woman performing at her first comedy open-mic night. The character of Lisa is made up of three individuals, Me, Her and Them. Lisa scrabbles around to find anything funny to say and her alter egos, Her and Them, chip in with their views about the situation. Evie Lauren Kerr, gives a strong performance as Lisa; somebody who is plagued by self-doubt and low self-esteem. Lighter moments were enjoyably provided by Sophie Edmunds as Her, allowing the more fun and carefree part of Lisa’s personality to shine. Of course, the self-doubt comes from somewhere else and the darker aspects of her character are represented by Them, a role acted effectively, by Margot Lubliner.

The set was very simple but worked well, showing how exposed Lisa was when she stepped out onto the stage for that first open-mic night. A stool and a microphone were centre stage and two old, bent-wood chairs for Her and Them towards the sides. The sound design of canned laughter and appropriate music also supported the simple set in creating the atmosphere on the stage. Lighting was used effectively too, within the production, noticeably being darker when Them was talking.

Nothing & Everything ElseZ is for Zelda ReviewThe beginning is a little slow, however, once the pace picked up, it was a great short production by a new young playwright and theatre company.

“Good drama”

After an interval, where I made the most of grabbing a breath of fresh air on what was an unusually hot evening for York, it was time for play number two, Z is for Zelda, which gives wild socialite, Zelda Fitzgerald, an opportunity to tell her life story.

In the production Zelda moves between her glamorous, polished self to apparently struggling with severe mental health issues. Her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald, deftly acted by Christian Fuchs, provides a logical commentary to her ramblings. We see the perspective of both characters on their life and relationship.

Hannah Cooper, who took the part of the troubled and chaotic Zelda, performed the role beautifully. The seeming chaos of their lives was mirrored in the set which was strewn with papers everywhere even hanging off the walls, also echoing the fact that both were writers.

I especially liked the juxtaposition of the pre-recorded voice of her doctor and husband talking, as poor Zelda slipped into emotional instability, however, at times it was louder than the people on the stage. All in all though, a good drama.

If you would like to support new talent – something worth doing given the difficulties that the performing arts have had during the last two years – then these two plays would be time well spent.

Top image via Black Sheep Theatre Productions/Facebook


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