Joann Condon promises we will laugh and cry in her self written one woman show Little Boxes and laugh and cry we did! Condon’s comedic timing and witty anecdotes cut perfectly into the moments when I’m not sure I can stand the sadness any longer.
Written by Joann Condon and Leonie Rachel and directed by Maud Dromgoole; Condon tells brief stories of her life experiences and ties them all together using a stage full of boxes to explain how the world has literally put her into boxes throughout her life. She uses personal anecdotes to highlight social judgment and assumptions made about her as she takes us on a journey from childhood to late adulthood, exploring her role as an actor, mother, daughter and neighbour, before going back to motherhood again. Condon’s breakthrough moment underwhelms as she skims disappointingly over the ‘me box’ (which was hilariously minuscule compared to the other boxes) and ends the show in the “mom box”, physically beating down a tower of boxes and hoping for a better life for her children – which suggests that Joann is not as completely free of her boxes as she would initially like to suggest, supported by the numerous amount of boxes still left on stage.
The message is very clear and coupled with the simple stage design, it couldn’t be more obvious. Yet, to make up for any lack of audience interpretation and mystery, we’re captivated by Joann’s endearing charm and we fully empathise with her plight. There was a real sense of comradery that blossomed between the audience and Joann, helped along not only through the deftly handled moments of audience interaction but when Joann relaxed and allowed her wonderful personality to shine through. The Hen and Chickens offered the perfect space for this intimate performance although there were moments when the music was a bit overbearing as well as a few late arrivals which were a notable distraction.
Little Boxes is an endearing taster and a short glimpse of a worthy story that left me wanting more. The play ran at a short 30 minutes and I would have liked to see the anecdotes explored and further developed with a clearer story arc. I look forward to seeing how this show evolves as I definitely feel interested and invested in her story, it has so much potential!
A review by Trynity Silk & Louise Goodfield