Because You Demanded It
Written by Marissa Burgess in Fest on August 13th, 2016
Given the stressful nature of the current political climate, Bridget Christie has ditched the politics and the feminism, so Mortal is to be an hour about gardening. Her garden is where she feels safe, a lovely place of calm. But what’s that? Is there a nasty invasive plant coming to try and strangle her pretty flowers? Perhaps a Virginia creeper? It probably voted to leave the EU too. Yeah, maybe this is a show about Brexit after all.
This is a sublime hour, particularly considering that the vast majority of it would have been written in little more than a month. You can imagine Christie spending much of July stabbing angrily at a bit of paper with her biro. And what a show it is: impassioned, moving and of course extremely funny.
Christie opens with a brilliant metaphor explaining that a South American fuchsia doesn’t take up soil that the other, English, plants need. And so begins the Brexit anger as it creeps into Christie’s garden. There are fantastic analogies throughout including comparing the country’s split opinion on Farage to that of the black and blue/white and gold dress picture that did the rounds on the internet. The inventive surrealism of Christie’s earlier work is echoed here too, at one point even found in a true story – the gullibility of the Daily Mail reader is evidenced in the fact that the paper used a picture of Christie dressed as Charles II to illustrate a story in part about the restoration monarch.
Christie occasionally retreats to the safety and zen of her scented garden, only for incredulity to intervene again, hitting a peak when mentioning the appointment of Boris Johnson as foreign secretary.
Yet Mortal also has its poignant moments, pausing to consider what Brexit truly means. Even when she’s being jokingly brutal about telling her children how it will affect their future, it has an underlying melancholy. But it’s especially in evidence when talking about her own immigrant Irish parents’ experience when they moved to England.