Stupid

Sian Armstrong

Mortal Fools

Arts Centre Washington, part of Sunderland Stages

On 02 November 2017

Review by Peter Lathan

She’s sitting at the top of a Ferris wheel watching the blue coat of her boyfriend—now ex-boyfriend—as he walks away through the crowded fairground. He’s leaving because she did something that proved to be rather stupid. This is her third time round the wheel and she’s going to go round again.

She’s actually sitting on the top of a set of step-ladders in the middle of a stage telling us about sitting at the top of a Ferris wheel watching… Well, you get the picture.

She has the steps because she’s drawing a mural. Or perhaps it’s graffiti.

She went to art school and describes herself as an illustrator. Her mum says she does drawing and her dad says she’s an artist, boasts about it to his drinking mates.

She’s back living with her mum (who’s separated from her dad) now that her boyfriend’s moved out. And she’s working as a supply teacher at a local comprehensive school, even though she hasn’t done any teacher training—and yes, it does show a little.

Her life’s a bit chaotic—well, more than a bit: she’s not really sure of what she’s doing as a teacher and certainly not at all sure about where she goes next, and she tells us all about it as she works on her drawing.

Written and performed by Sian Armstrong and directed by Anna Ryder, Stupid is an engaging piece showing just how chaotic life—or, at least, our perception of our lives—can be when things go wrong. It’s not doom and gloom, nor is it full of angst—indeed it’s shot through with humour and somehow you know it’s not going to end badly. After all, we’ve all been there—or somewhere similar.

A pleasant and illuminating hour of theatre, which might just be uncomfortably familiar.