Review: Jellyfish, written and performed by Alice Malseed, HighTide Festival, until September 18

A young Belfast woman sits alone on her stage and has a story to tell. Disaffected, hedonistic and honest, her voice is lyrical and her words a poetic mash up. Alice Malseed doesn’t apologise, acknowledge her audience, even. We are invited to merely observe her as the narrative of her life darts around us, bouncing from one moment to another creating a patch work of experiences that brings her to us today via higher education and parties.

She smiles somewhat serenely as she recounts her childhood in a Belfast suburb. The only reference to sectarianism is a description of the drama club she attended where both sides went so they could pretend to be someone else. She is clearly of a generation for whom the weariness of war is somewhere else and the lack of reference speaks simple volumes.

This piece is both dreamy and edgy. As a young woman she is fearlessly scaling adulthood on her own terms and is clear where her battle lines are drawn. However, she is betrayed at every turn by the system that promised so much but delivers zero hour contracts in a world of fractured reality where her peers “vomit emojis like acid.”

Alice Malseed is a natural storyteller and a compelling presence on stage as she describes a world in which the only thing she has control over is her opinion and perspective, but like a jelly fish is cast adrift and soul searching. Alone but never seemingly lonely.

Jackie Montague

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