We join I have a bad feeling about this (the musical story of Alice and her struggle with her anxiety disorder) as Alice has just moved to the country with her husband, hoping for a fresh start, a clean slate with new people to make new impressions upon and leaving her anxiety firmly behind her. Only it’s not quite that simple.
This show is led by Alice (Alice Keedwell), cabaret style with a handheld microphone singing her way through the encounters and experiences of her new town and her new life – for example the locals at the pub and the utter glory that is Waitrose. But alongside her stage right is Harry Blake playing the piano, voicing all her anxieties and fears for the audience to hear; “you’re going to order the wrong drink”, “they don’t really want to hang out with you”, “they don’t like you but they’re just too polite to say so”. Keedwell portrayed a very wide eyed, rabbit-in-the-headlights, yet optimistic version of Alice. Her positivity was evidently supposed to create a contrast between the voice that represented her anxiety but sometimes it was a bit too much. She ended up appearing a very positive person with a bold outset – introducing yourself to a group of strangers in a pub would be a daunting enough task most people would chose to avoid, so for someone suffering with anxiety it seems a bit of a stretch.
A square around Alice and some separate lines around the piano are marked out by strips of lights which fluctuate depending on her mood – rosy pinks when she’s trying to be positive and cold blues and whites when the voice of her anxiety strips her positivity away, often leaving her a nervous wreck. The big ‘event’ of the show was Alice organising a “supper club” dinner party, which culminated in her largest anxiety attack. This was done particularly well, with the floor lights flashing white faster and faster in correlation to her cycle of lines becoming more and more garbled in a panicked frenzy. To top it off white noise increased in volume to an uncomfortable level and continued to play at its peak for a while rather than just cutting off at its climax. This forced the audience spend time in a very uncomfortable environment, really striking a chord with the pressure one might feel under when experiencing anxiety struggles firsthand.
The show ends on a heartwarming moment where Alice breaks the barrier and goes to stand behind the piano, deciding they’re going to therapy together. Followed by a good old group sing along with the audience (lyrics provided on our chairs), a few lines about how “a problem shared is still a problem” (but sometimes talking can help) leaves the audience feeling slightly uplifted as lights go down.