Kate has checked into Hotel Sabbatoir. A place where unhelpful thoughts take the form of characters in this one-woman play which everyone can relate to.
Like the broken pens which lie at the bottom of our bags, the thoughts Kate Mayne explores weigh us down and have no purpose. What we should do is throw them out the moment they become unhelpful and replace them with shiny new versions full of purpose but, as the play shows, this is not always easy.
In Everyone Keeps Broken Pens, the taskmaster’s motto is that “enough is never enough”; this phrase continuously intrudes on Kate’s thoughts by reminding her she needs to do more, becoming a vicious cycle she cannot escape from. The Wannabe twins (hotel receptionists also portrayed by Mayne) either care too much what other people think or don’t care at all, both of which lead down a destructive road. Finally, Imelda thinks everyone should just be having fun – eating what they want, drinking as much as they want with no thoughts of the consequences. Mayne takes on the role of each character with just subtle mannerism shifts and an amusing range of accents, needing only a sparse array of props to set the scene of this imagined horrifying hotel.
Trapped in our thoughts is a terrible place to be; thus making this piece of theatre by The Mayne Event a clever idea and certainly relevant in a time of increasingly difficult relationships with our mental health. Mayne’s taskmaster asks Kate just to try “snapping out of it” and tells her that her problem is just that she is “too pessimistic”, statements anyone with a mental illness knows too well are entirely unhelpful and yet all too often trotted out.
Mayne ends with some spoken word which, although effective, feels as if it could have had more impact. There are awkward moments littered throughout – the audience not sure where to look when Mayne stuffs, then regurgitates out several times, a Wispa bar, while playing the hedonistic Imelda. But it will leave those who witness it thinking about how many metaphorical broken pens they have at the bottom of their own bags and whether it is time for a clean out.