Some weeks ago I paid my inaugural visit to the Axis Theatre in Ballymun to see ‘Before’ by Pat Kinevane. Very entertaining it was too. As is my custom I followed the social media accounts of the theatre afterwards, to be kept abreast of upcoming events. One such event was ‘Electrolyte’ which opened last night.
Now if the truth be told I tend to be wary of recommendations by theatre spaces or the theatricals that work within them. They have a vested interest in attracting an audience – it pays the bills and is creatively fulfilling to have full houses. The tendency is to wax lyrical about forthcoming shows, raving about how brilliant they are. Actors and artistic directors and directors claim that a new work is stunning. The reality can be quite wide off the mark.
Sometimes however the raves are justified.
‘Electrolyte’ is one such show. Written by James Meteyard (with music by Maimuna Memon), ‘Electrolyte’ tells the story of Jess – a young Leeds woman as she travels from gig to club to party, all the while drinking and drugging. Her carefree life is a facade. Her father has recently committed suicide. She flees to London to track down her mother, and descends into psychosis in the attempt.
This may sound grim but it’s not – not always at least. A piece of gig-theatre told through music and spoken word, it veers between a live concert, a play and descent into a mental breakdown.
It’s a stunning piece of work. Jess is played by Olivia Sweeney, in a tour de force performance – hilarious, tragic, terrifying and heartbreaking. It is a phenomenal portrayal of a woman’s life unraveling. She is ably supported by five other actors and musicians.
I am a person who resolutely resists giving standing ovations unless I feel the show has genuinely merited it. I was on my feet in a flash at the end of the show. I was front row so didn’t even know if my fellow audience members were doing the same. Of course they were.
A beautiful play/musical about madness and the power of friendship, ‘Electrolyte’ is one of the best shows I have seen in a long time.
Playing at 8pm in the Axis, Ballymun until Saturday for a mere 15euro, you really ought to beg, steal or borrow to see this show (or simply book a ticket). Highly recommended.