Review: Her Very Many Faces
A delightful piece covering mental health, social isolation, and the difficult balance of university and home life
There’s an irony of timing perhaps quite apt that as we reach Week Five, there is a late show on which captures many of the anxieties and stresses of university life, where it is so easy to feel like an outsider. Maddie Lynes is able to capture these sentiments wonderfully, in a script which tactfully covers the mental health difficulties university can bring about, and how in balancing our home and uni lives we play to different galleries, and what happens when the two worlds come crashing together.
The story of Her is marvellously crafted. The three clashing worlds of their life with her parents, her best friend, and her university friends are able to show a strong sense of separation between one another as Her’s lies embellish herself to whoever she needs to. The impact of each world upon her still feels clearly noticeable, with the eventual culmination of all these white lies having an excellently authentic impact on her, as we see her having to face down the build-up of small lies to her friends and family, and be honest about the difficulties she’s been facing.
Beyond the excellent script, those who brought it to life lent their characters a brilliant sense. Sarah Mulgrew as Her is able to brilliantly move across a broad series of emotions, from her sense of joy at being with her best friend of home, to her attempts at fitting in with the posh north London hacks at her university, to her stilted awkwardness with her overbearing mother. Mulgrew also is able to handle Her’s eating disorder with a strong sense of tact, making the emotional weight have a strong impact throughout the piece, particularly at moments of great personal struggle: it is not used solely for sensationalism, as beyond the moments where Her’s struggles come to light, her mental health remains a constant subtext to most of her actions, which Mulgrew is able to bring across whether acting closed off or more open and friendly.Looking at the rest of the production, despite a small cast and limited set, the sense of changing locations and characters is put across excellently. Gaia Mondadori is able to capture the contented and curious best friend Phoebe, from her excitement to her anger, whilst also able to bring across the crass, posh and utterly uncaring Millie within almost moments of one another.
Jake Burke similarly is able to contrast the awkward, slightly stiff Sam who doesn’t really know how to get through to Her, as well as Her’s Dad trying to get through to his daughter and protect her from the worst of Her’s mother, with both brilliantly funny roles cutting through the tension of strong character conflicts, whilst not taking away from the heavier meaning of the piece.
Coco Wheeler as Her’s mother comes across as overbearing and slightly harsh, whilst clearly uncertain of how best to look after Her and doing whatever possible to keep Her safe, with this contrasting the relaxed, self-assured social climber that is Iris, who perfectly typifies the North London posh girl with hordes of friends at uni you may run into if you spend any time at Trinity, Johns or the Union.
Her Very Many Faces covers a lot of topics which feel very much like lived experiences to potentially most of its audience, yet despite the shorter nature of Late shows, it uses each minute excellently, addressing issues in an incredibly captivating manner with a good sense of depth. Its limited set and lighting sell each location no matter how different brilliantly, and its characters are a joy to watch, from the funniest moments to the most difficult to watch. The whole show is utterly engrossing, and more than worth your time to escape the horrors of Week Five to delve into some excellent student writing.
Her Very Many Faces is showing from the 15th of February – 18th of February at 9:30 pm in the Corpus Playroom. Book your tickets here.
Feature Image Credit: Miranda Crawford