Three people stand in a gallery full of people, who all have very different lives, but are connected by their desperate loneliness. Quite literally bringing to life the saying “Loneliness is standing in a room full of people, but feeling completely alone,” From The Mill Theatre Company introduce us to these three ordinary people’s lives, and their struggle with loneliness.
As the audience gather into the gallery, chatting to one another and anticipating what is about to begin, a young lady named Anna begins to talk. She is chirpy and positive, as she tells us about her newborn baby and the joy he brings her. As she talks us through her day, she finds herself checking Facebook to see a group of her work colleagues out together, and she expresses her frustration about their lack of communication with her since she had her baby. “How can people you spend every day with have forgotten all about you in six weeks,” she exclaims. Craving an adult conversation, suffering from the lack of affection from her husband, and burning with guilt as she wishes for her old life back, we slowly watch Anna fall apart.
Each person brings up their story, interwoven within one another as their characters build. We are introduced to a young guy, Joe. Struggling through a temp job to pay the bills, he takes us through his morning as he is unable to peel himself out of bed to face the workday. Constantly worried what his distant colleagues think of him, unable to get in touch with his old friends to have a real conversation, Joe has a passion for filmmaking but can’t seem to get himself out of his rut. He has nothing to get out of bed every day for, nothing and no one to make his days worthwhile.
Matthew Forey plays the part of Joe and it is a subtlety powerful performance. He completely masters his character as he slowly loses himself and his positivity. As he is consumed with loneliness, we witness the breaking point. He utters his final monologue through streaming tears – his performance is completely moving.
The character of Rosie (Lucy Hilton-Jones) touches on a strong issue that faces many young single people. Feeling the pressure to find someone to be with, and unable to cope with her seeing her friends being able to settle down romantically. Rosie turns to dating app Tinder in order to force herself to meet up with strangers and find ‘the one’. She becomes obsessive as she calculates the perfect formulas to find the perfect man, and when they stop messaging her, their profiles disappear, or they don’t turn out to be who they say they are, she feels as if her whole world is crashing down. She is back on this never ending spiral, and is completely destined to be alone. She focuses all her energy on swiping through Tinder and messaging meaningless guys, that she isn’t looking up and seeing what the real world has to offer.
Loneliness can end people’s lives, yet it is so rarely talked about. This performance really highlights the internet and social media’s effect in heightening the amount of people feeling intense loneliness. Joe projects an image of himself online through Instagram, that he is happy and successful, as he posts a false representation of his life. Rosie devours society’s message that the only way to really find love in the modern age is through superficial dating apps, and Anna is only making her battle worse by constantly scrolling through Facebook and seeing everyone else having what looks like the best time without her.
This facade of social media is making people question their own lives, and beating themselves up about not having it all like everybody else online, despite the fact that everyone else’s social feeds are merely a highlight reel.
I’m Standing Next To You is an honest, raw and emotionally charged piece of theatre about the rise of loneliness in this modern life we live in.
Details for HOME’s Push Festival can be found here.