Pros: Rosa Hoskins’ credible performance and the authenticity with which Asperger Syndrome has been portrayed.
Cons: Lack of dramatic tension might lead you to perceive the show as long and unengaging.
Walking past a stage crammed with musical instruments, books and random objects, Rose enters with her bicycle. She comes all the way from the future to tell us her story, and the reason why she’s come from such distant lands is that she is already dead.
213 Things about Me is based on the true story of a woman who committed suicide at the age of 36 shortly after being diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a developmental disorder characterised by difficulties in social interaction and poor communication skills. Now included on the autistic spectrum, those with Asperger’s have average or above average intelligence, but may struggle with social interaction and communication.
During this one hour long monologue, Rose relates her struggles. At the beginning she says that she, “Never really got life,” although she didn’t understand why. She is puzzled at seeing acquaintances at her funeral weeping and full of grief when they never cared about her in life. In a candid statement she tells the audience it makes no sense to feel differently about someone after they have died. One of the problems that she experienced with people was being “honest in inappropriate ways,” and misinterpreting the subtle rules that are used in the social game. For her, being in someone else’s shoes meant being in very uncomfortable shoes. And despite having prodigious talents, playing multiple instruments and speaking five languages, she never felt truly appreciated.
It’s because of the above that it came as a relief when she was diagnosed with Asperger’s: finally, Rose felt that there was a chance for people to understand her better. By receiving this diagnosis of a neurological condition, Rose thought that everyone around her would know why she behaved as she behaved; however that was never the case.
Although 213 Things About Me is a moving story which points out interesting observations about society’s failure to integrate people who experience life in different ways, the play’s format unfortunately isn’t captivating. There’s no dramatic tension, and the monologue feels long and heavy at times. Whereas it can’t be denied that it feels realistic, the self-centred dialogue can be too intense and hard to follow at times. The three songs included in the show, despite having beautiful lyrics (originally written by the real Rose), are protracted, and rather than facilitating an engagement with the overall story, I felt they created a distance from it. Rosa Hoskins’s fine performance as Rose should be noted, being realistic and easily transmitting the awkwardness and pain of someone who, tragically, found it impossible to find a place within society.
Author: Richard Butchins
Director: Richard Butchins
Box Office: 020 7223 2223
Booking Link: https://www.bac.org.uk/content/43778/whats_on/whats_on/shows/213_things_about_me
Booking Until: This play has now finished its run.