The Verse’s Zoe Toland reviews Femi Martin’s performance ‘How To Die of a Broken Heart’ at the Brighton Dome, Saturday 25th February
Stepping onto a stage with nothing but a black backdrop and a couple of lights, Femi Martin makes her way to the centre. Facing the audience. Despite the minimalistic surroundings, she instantly engaged the audience. She opens with a fact about the science of love and the role of neurotransmitter, dopamine; it’s effect on our thoughts and feelings when looking at the person we love. Its similarity to the brain activity associated with addiction.
This factual opening, softened with humour, introduces the theme of the entirety. A mixed emotional, human approach to sensitive issues. She uses anecdotes to paint a wider picture of the daily dealings of people, and how we react to, and process difficult information. How people view us, how people misunderstand us, and the hidden battles of us all.
Using expressive body language and working harmoniously with the lights, Femi creates a powerful visual. Often reinforced by the carefully thought out monologues which transport us to the places and situations described. She integrates her chronic illness slowly, coherent with her personal experience, and relatable for anyone else who has been diagnosed with something. She describes the confusion that comes with your body not cooperating. Using speech and movements, she creates the battle synonymous to her experience with the condition later described to be, Achalasia.
Femi narrates Achalasia as creeping yet sudden. A pain that you know is coming but it still manages to shock you. By combining the expected with the unexpected, she creates an air of the contrasting feelings felt within the vessel of our bodies in situations such as illness, but also when in love. She goes on to describe the desperate search to find a cure. A way to stop the pain, to eat again, and to lead a normal life. Through these holistic, failed approaches she alongside describes failed romances, with people who don’t understand and just aren’t right. Then she finishes with a successful operation in which she was scared to undertake, and the introduction of a man, with the same condition as her, who shares experiences and understands.
With a dramatic turn out of the lights, the audience is lead to believe, he is, finally, the one.