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Dear Eliza | BN1 Arts Centre

Dear Eliza is a gut-wrenching show highlighting the importance of mental health struggles within young adult friendships. With just one person (Barbara Diesel) on the stage throughout the entire performance, it is a difficult task to capture the audience as beautifully as Diesel does, but boy did she achieve that spectacularly. It is an intense piece of theatre that is not for the faint-hearted, but nonetheless, an important play that all should see.

 

Diesel is able to guide the audience through her thought process and coming to terms with the suicide of her best friend through the letters that she wrote her. The performance is captivating, while at some moments possibly a little too intense. In a small venue, the intensity of Diesel’s heartbreaking performance could potentially pull focus from the narrative at hand, as it is easy for an audience to become overwhelmed when in a small studio.


With simple staging and minimal lighting, all eyes are on Diesel and she really did hold the audience in the palm of her hand. The props elevate this and allow the performance to feel grounded and incredibly realistic when it comes to the life of a female university student. The props are not flashy, a shoe box full of handwritten letters and a chair, and this really allowed for a seamless blend of reality and a perfectly polished performance that has clearly had many hours of creativity poured into it.


Another element of the show that increases its realistic feel and therefore its connectivity with the audience was the use of music. The show starts with music, almost as if you are sat in Eliza’s bedroom, and ends with music, while also having a brief interlude of it during the show. This allowed the audience to feel as if we were listening to Eliza’s private thoughts, and despite the show being performed with an intended audience as part of the narrative, it felt raw.


As stated earlier, this show could potentially be better suited to a larger space, but as of now, the talent of the director (Helen Parry) and Diesel really carry this show. There is a natural feel to everything that is performed, despite it clearly being well thought-out and this is very unique. As Diesel stands on chairs and throws the letters, you get a true insight into the mindset and mental state of the character.

 

Overall, Dear Eliza is an eye-opening and important play highlighting the impact of suicide and the importance of effective mental health support for young people. It carefully follows one girl and her thought process as she battles her way through grief in a very real and devastating way. As this show continues to grow there is no doubt that it will be increasingly successful, as it is already a unique and wonderful piece of theatre.


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4*)


Gifted tickets in return for an honest review

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