Review: The Shy Manifesto at The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham

Writer: Michael Ross

Director: Cat Robey

Michael Ross places shyness at the centre of this heartfelt monologue which includes a range of challenges that people growing up today can face.

Ross intertwines labels, body dysmorphia and social media into one story about how a teenager, constantly challenged to come out of his shell tries to succumb the question of with who he is and who he wants to be.

Theo Ancient plays the role of Callum, a 17-year-old teenager stuck in the world surrounded by overconfident people with only his best friends and his own room for company. Ancient bounces off the audience, as if he is a lecturer or a politician to create a beautiful, engaging story, creating characters with little more than a couple of props.

While Ancient portrays the cockiness and naivety of a teenager, most prominently he is seen as a well educated young bookworm who feels like he knows what he wants from life. However, when he overcomes his shyness for one night, with the help of alcohol his world as he knows it turns upside down.

The set is small but clever and Charlie Morgan Jones uses this as a blank canvas to illuminate the life of Callum and his emotions. The use of silhouettes is particularly clever while the sound design by Alistair Lax creates a wonderful soundtrack to Callum’s tale.

The Shy Manifesto is a beautiful, ultra-modern, sweet coming of age story told in a wonderfully engaging way by Theo Ancient. Under the direction of Cat Robey this performance pieces together different parts of Callum’s mind and the torment he endures trying to finding himself, while also challenging the question of whether shyness should be accepted or whether it is something that needs to be conquered.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

5money*Decision based on a ticket price of £13. For more info on this value for money rating please visit here: Introducing a new kind of rating

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