The questioning of identity is a continual inherent battle we all fight. How we may perceive ourselves isn’t necessarily how others will. But do we aspire for these various perceptions of ourself to align so that we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet? Or do we embrace that identity is multi-faceted? Actress, model and theatre maker Phina Oruche‘s Identity Crisis addresses this mercurial phenomena.
Identity Crisis is a response to a tragic moment within Orhche’s life; the passing of her niece. What follows impacts on Oruche’s public identity as she finds herself bombarded by the relentless press, a machine determined to get their perfect story. Oruche, best known for her television roles, most notably the fiery Liberty Baker in Footballer’s Wives fights the public perception of herself with who she truly is, in the process hiding away from the world in order to readjust. Projections decorate the small intimate space, the evening starting off with newspaper snippets adorning upstage – a physical representation of Oruche’s public persona, and continuing to depict glamourous images of Oruche on the front cover of well known fashion magazines. Surely making it onto the covers of some of the most esteemed magazines would equate to happiness? Not necessarily and that’s what Oruche opens up a dialogue about throughout the evening, making for an intriguing watch. The evening captures the chaos of Oruche’s life from and it’s as if the audience have been invited to view an exhibition of Oruche’s life; questioning who the authority is on one’s identity.
A myriad of characters adorn the stage, whether it be a posh funeral director, a bubbly self assured Liverpudlian female, a business owner, or a passionate Italian male. Oruche perfectly pitches her comedic timing, constantly breaking the fourth wall in order to support the fact that the evening is not to be a passive one. Although these characters are an inspired tool to showcase how they have moulded and shaped Oruche, the evening misses a depth quite challenging to achieve when a solo performer takes on this challenge. The narrative consequentially is structurally messy, but what’s clear is Oruche’s ambition as she wishes to tackle various themes including race, grief, social-economic background, age and motherhood. It’s clear how grateful Oruche is about the opportunities that have afforded her a comfortable adulthood, and it’s clear how every career move, and some personal moments have carved her into the woman that she is today. Despite the heavy subjects of loss and mental health, Oruche’s strength and ebuillance shines through. 3/5
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
Identity Crisis was shown at the Ovalhouse Teatre from Tuesday 9th until Saturday 13th May. For more information on Phina, visit here…
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