This review was originally written for the daily Flare Festival publication.
It is a slow burner of a performance. Sullivan eases into her monologue with a softly spoken voice, almost too quiet to hear. The stage engulfs her tiny frame as she questions what drives her to be angry inside a small spotlight. The monologue starts humbly and passionately but as the tension builds, and her body starts to shake, we are suddenly aware of the boisterous contraption strapped to her back. She carries all her anger between her shoulder blades; a crowded collection of bells, designed by Annelies Henney and a relatable type of anger washes over me. That shaking, so angry I can’t get my words out, hot tears, ringing ears, type of angry that is uncontrollable and all consuming. Yet, it is not the anger that lives in us, but the overriding guilt that to be angry is to not rise above what makes us so. To be angry is to also feel guilty; a temporary feeling that is often dismissed as a childish emotion as Sullivan alludes to in her discussion of her and her brother’s turbulent but extremely familiar relationship.
Sullivan’s articulate monologue is a sophisticated and well-presented idea of what it is to feel angry, and raises questions of how we communicate this particular emotion.
When the performance is slowly, slowly building, I can’t help but be reminded of the 1976 Network monologue:
I want you to get MAD!…All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad! You’ve got to say: ‘I’m a human being, god-dammit! My life has value!’
Being angry is a valid response to things that truly disturb and affect us as humans and Sullivan’s response to this emotion is an interesting and eloquent start to the first triple bill of the week.