Break Yourself**** (Brighton Fringe Festival – Marlborough Theatre)

Posted: May 14, 2016 in Theatre

Break-YourselfThis review was originally written for The Reviews Hub: http://www.thereviewshub.com

Ollie is a success. 27, running a thriving graphic design company and looking the business – neatly-trimmed beard, tailored raincoat, open neck white shirt and designer jeans. But Ollie has an alter ego, that of Bruce Springsteen, the rock singer whose iconic image symbolises the essence of blue collar America. Yes, Ollie likes a bit of rough. Ira Brand, the show’s creator, plays Ollie in a relaxed, confident manner, teasing and taunting the audience with descriptions of a lifestyle in which appearances belie reality. Ollie chairs a Q and A session, smiling knowingly, almost certain that the questions will be trivial, coyly avoiding those that most of the audience wants answered. Occasionally, Ollie’s exploits shock, but that is not the essential point. The writer is showing us that, within obvious limits, individuals can flourish, given the freedom to make their own choices and that others need not be judgemental. In ways that are never obvious, Brand always directs us to think about questions of sexuality, gender identity and role-modelling. Real life is contrasted perfectly with fantasy life. The Springsteen segments are showstoppers, particularly Dancing in the Dark, with Ollie miming to the Boss’s tracks and putting on a show that can be only marginally less entertaining than the real thing. A lot of thought-provoking themes are packed into just 45 minutes. but this terrific little show is exactly what good fringe theatre is all about. It surprises, challenges, entertains and celebrates the liberating powers of rock ’n’ roll. If Ollie can become Bruce Springsteen, then any of us can become anything.

Performance date: 12 May 2016

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