Turning thirty can be quite daunting. For many it marks the milestone to adulthood, with increasing pressures on career and status. Unsurprisingly, this also coincides with a spike of depression and anxiety issues, the result of a socio-economic situation that is currently unable to provide certainties.
In his honest monologue, writer Tom Hartwell voices these concerns through the life of Deliveroo driver Chris (Thomas Willshire). Chris is just one of the hundreds we see every day on their bikes whizzing through the streets of our cities. We meet him on the day of his 29th birthday. The countdown to the big three-oh has started and he feels compelled to scrutinise his achievements. Dreams of becoming a chef have been replaced with a job as a delivery rider. And due to the limited financial awards of such a job, all he can afford to rent is a tent in someone’s garage. His love life is practically non-existent and every time he meets his friends, he’s confronted with the much-dreaded question “What’s new with you?” – a constant reminder that he’s stuck in a dead end.
Taking his grandfather as a role model doesn’t help much either. At the age of thirty he had a career, a family, a mortgage. But times have changed, and now we’re all about freelance work, flexible hours, gig economy; all buzzwords to describe the current precariousness of employment. A surreal last-minute trip to Tibet is a striking metaphor of how unprepared he is to face what life throws at him.
Even when he pussyfoots around his issues, unable to fully articulate his oppressive feelings, instead going heavy on self-commiseration and filling the silence with awkward jokes, it’s still so easy to sympathise with our antihero. In the present social climate, where the suicide rate of men in their thirties is soaring, it’s refreshing to know that people like Chris are slowly finding their voice and learning how to share their emotional struggles. Hartwell’s early attempt to elaborate on this subject is a genuine, yet tentative, portrayal of male fragility.
Author: Tom Hartwell
Director: Phil Croft
Producer: Tom Hartwell
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Booking Link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/before-30
Booking Until: 25 August 2019