The first thing to be said about Help! is that Viki Browne is a fantastic performer, an endearing stage presence and a great storyteller. She introduces herself to each and every member of the audience as they enter the Monkey House performance space at the Zoo venue. It is a pleasure to spend an hour in Viki’s company. As she tells her personal and honest story, Viki effortlessly manages to keep the audience gripped on her evocative and powerful words.
Help! is a one-person show about mental illness. On the 19th of January 2012 Viki jumped into a prickly magnolia bush on Wimbledon Common in London. She was living with anxiety and depression and her situation had became too much for one person to handle. The event inspired Viki to ask for assistance from family, friends and doctors and her show Help! is about her experiences with mental health services and the aftermath of her breakdown
The show relies heavily on audience participation. There is no barrier between performer and observer. The crowd are active participants in the show and are at times encouraged to ask questions and invited to join Viki on the stage to help piece her life back together. These sequences unfortunately slow down the pace of the performance. They become distractions and as mentioned earlier, Viki is a great storyteller and Help! is at it’s strongest when the performer is opening up her heart and giving the audience an insight into her thoughts and feelings. During the final third of the performance we witness the moment Viki snaps and it is a powerful, shocking and chilling event. The tone of the show changes and what was a jovial and light hearted approach, is now serious, deep and enthralling to witness.
Help! is an important show from a great performer that is very much let down by relying too much on the audience to carry the story forward and ‘help’ draw the show to the conclusion. It is very much understood that assistance and care are part of the show, but this reliance on audience participation did not always hit the mark.