Sometimes you just have to reach out...
Things just don't work out as you expect, as Rachel Parris shows in her award-winning comedy show Best Laid Plans which she brings to the Komedia in Brighton on February 28.
“The show’s comedy is around life plans we make, weddings, children, body image, sex and things like that, and how they often don’t pan out how you expect, but the narrative centres around a true story about me going through a break-up and getting in touch with The Samaritans,” Rachel says. “It sounds miserable, but it’s not!”
It’s also about how she ended up striking up a correspondence with ‘Jo’ (the Samaritan).
“The break-up was after four years. It was not as a big as a divorce or something like that, but I got really sad for the first time in my life, and the show is about this ridiculous to and fro of emails I had with The Samaritans.
“If you are in a dire situation, if you are on the bridge, don’t email them, but if you are just feeling sad and more low key, you can email them, and it was good.
“I think the break-up does linger, but the show has become more about this time in your life where perhaps 20 years ago you would have thought you would have a house, be settling down and having children, but instead you are in your 30s and not really knowing what your life is and feeling a bit lost.
“The break-up was the catalyst for that, and it is a situation that a lot of people are in.
“It’s about things like whether you should have children, about sex, just about your life, lots of themes that people can identify with.
“It is about having an alternative life to what you planned and about being content with it.
“The Samaritans just reflect back what you say to them. I have to say I have got friends. I have got lovely friends that would also be there, but sometimes you just don’t want to talk to your friends who would all offer good advice.
“You just want to talk to someone anonymous.
“I can remember the night it happened.
“I had just had a really bad night, a really bad gig. Have you seen La La Land? That bit where she does her solo show to not many people and afterwards she can hear people slagging her off. That was very familiar.
“That happened, and it is a horrible feeling.
“It has happened before, but I was in a bit of a sad place and I had a panic attack in the uber.
“It was everything building up, and I was just crying. It was late at night, and I just wanted to reach out.
“I was just in a sad place.
“So I emailed The Samaritans. The first line was ‘I don’t think I am coping at all.’
“They emailed back, and they get you to explore how you are feeling.
“They don’t offer advice. They don’t say ‘Your life is fine’. They just get you to explore things…”
The correspondence in reality was just three or four times back and forth: “But for the show I have expanded it to give it a bit more of a narrative.”
And no, The Samaritans didn’t mind.
“I wondered if they would disapprove, but a lot of them came to see the show and really liked it.
“It is an upbeat show. It is about talking through your problems.
“I was on brand!”
“The show did really well at the Edinburgh Fringe, getting five and four star reviews and recommended by the Guardian, Telegraph and Marie-Claire (the glamour!) and it won Best Musical Comedy Show award and was nominated for Funny Women’s Best Show 2016.”
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