Annie Siddons takes a look at the time in her life when she found herself – performance maker, part Greek, part Egyptian, full Londoner – as a single mum living in the nuclear family haven of curtain-twitching Twickenham, the most married place in London. Following its successful Edinburgh Festival Fringe run at Summerhall in 2016, Annie brings her show about living in suburbia to Soho Theatre. Through performance and surreal film, she recalls her gauche attempts to fit in with the yummy mummies who run triathlons and the families that row and cycle at weekends. From sexist toddler groups, to judgmental book group leaders to the advances of married men, Annie takes a poignant and humorous look at what it is to live in a community you don’t fit in, the compromises we make for the sake of our children, how chronic loneliness manifests itself and her own personal quest to cure it.
Part love letter to London, part satire of suburban culture, part text book case of a woman reacting to chronic loneliness, How not to Live in Suburbia pairs Annie Siddons’ most determinedly autobiographical writing to date withfilm made by Richard DeDominici, whose The Redux Project was broadcast on BBC4 as part of Live from Television Centre.
Annie Siddons said, “I’m an inherently gregarious person. I’m not the person that you would think would be lonely. But I became pathologically lonely, and it affected me really deeply, changed my personality and my outlook. It became impossible for me not to talk about it. It became very dangerous for me. There’s a brilliant quote in Julius Caesar: “Dwell I but in the suburbs of your good pleasure” and that’s what it was like for me, I was dwelling in the suburbs of my own life, both literally, as a lifelong Londoner, and psychologically, as someone who had got themselves stuck in isolation and ever decreasing circles of interaction. Reading John Cacioppo’s seminal book on Loneliness [Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection] after making the show made me realize that what I describe in the show is what happens to a human ape when they are confronted with enduring loneliness.”
Annie Siddons is a London based playwright, musician and performance maker. Her previous show was Raymondo (Edinburgh Fringe 2014, British Council Showcase 2015 and UK tour) and her past credits include Rapunzel with Kneehigh and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King for the Unicorn Theatre. How not to Live in Suburbia premiered at Summerhall at Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2016, and is her first directly autobiographical piece and her first collaboration with Richard DeDomenici, whom she met in Edinburgh 2014. Annie trained as a Samaritan while she was making this show, an increasingly overloaded service since mental health provision on the NHS has been reduced.
Richard DeDomenici makes work that’s social, playful, political and critical. He created The Redux Project as part of BBC4’s Live From Television Centre, and has been shortlisted for the Arts Foundation Fellowship, nominated for the Jerwood Trust Moving Image Prize, and was a finalist in the Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award.
Director Justin Audibert is a freelance theatre director and Artistic Associate for HighTide Festival Theatre and Red Ladder. He directed Annie Siddons last critically-acclaimed play Raymondo. In 2012 he was the Acting Coach for the finalists of BBC 2’s Shakespeare Off By Heart. Co-director and performer Nicki Hobday is a contemporary theatre-maker and performer. She co-founded Trace Theatre in 2007 and has worked with Forced Entertainment, Nigel and Louise, Andy Smith, Michael Pinchbeck, GETINTHEBACKOFTHEVAN, Lucy McCormick, Hannah Ringham and Red Shift.