Hidden along a tunnel underneath Waterloo Station is the Network Theatre. It’s tricky to find and unless you know how to get there you almost want to give up. This then is an appropriate setting for Good Day, which commences with the idea of futility.
The play opens abruptly with Zara (Annie Davison) stating she wants to end her life. Set 500 years in the future, a special microchip prevents members of society from ageing and dying. Therefore, in Zara’s eyes life is pointless.
As the play unfolds, we see her struggling to cope with a lack of purpose and she is unable to communicate her feelings to those around her. To be allowed to have her microchip deactivated and go through euthanasia, she has to attend therapy sessions for a year, to ensure she’s making the right decision. Her assigned therapist is Alex (Olivia Barrowclough), a sentient robot.
The play tackles the issue of poor mental health head-on and writers Daniel Bainbridge and Cam Scriven have done an excellent job of capturing the nuances of hopelessness. The writing doesn’t shy away from the difficult and uncomfortable aspects of mental illness, but it also doesn’t reduce the characters to their illnesses. Instead, we see fully fleshed-out figures who are grappling with complex issues that affect every aspect of their lives.
One of the strengths of the play is its focus on relationships. Zara’s struggles have a ripple effect on those around her, and we see this in her strained relationship with new boyfriend Joe (Sam Newton). Additionally, her friendship with Alex is compelling and it’s enjoyable to see them get closer as the play goes on, through many comedic exchanges and macaroni pictures.
The writing is excellent, and the characters are of substance. Zara is a sympathetic and relatable protagonist, and we feel her pain and frustration as she struggles to come to terms with her lack of purpose in life. Throughout the play, the audience is also encouraged to contemplate immortality and what it means to be alive.
Good Day is also well-paced, with a balance of drama and humour. One particular scene where Joe writes a rap as an apology to Zara is hysterical. While the subject matter is heavy, the play never feels preachy or didactic. Instead, we see the characters grappling with difficult issues in a way that feels authentic and relatable.
The set is simple with two benches that the actors use in different ways; a bed, a therapist office and Alex’s bedroom. Yet, the dancing in between the scene changes feels odd and unnecessary. In the centre of the stage is a large screen which cleverly displays the actor’s dialogue, texts and calls and other various messages that highlight aspects of the story. This addition is effective and really adds to the futuristic feel.
Written by: Daniel Bainbridge and Cam Scriven
Directed by: Marlie Haco
Set and costume design by: Justin Nardella
Produced by: Double Telling
Good Day played as part of VAULT Festival 2023 and has finished its current run.