For anyone who doesn’t know, in 2007 Britney Spears, actual living icon, had a very public and well-reported breakdown. This period of her life included lots of tracksuits, attacking a paparazzi’s car with an umbrella, and shaving her head in public. That was just over 10 years ago, when Jo Hauge was 17. Coincidentally, just before Britney shaved off all of her hair, Jo did.
Now, in If Britney Can Get Through 2007, We Can Get Through This, Jo talks us through that time in their life, chronicling their mental health struggles, and brings us through to the present day a decade later. Accompanied by a band comprised of Ray Filar on guitar and Hollis Robin on drums, the non-binary trio stomp their way through Britney classics, like Oops… I Did It Again and Toxic (which is in Jo’s words, and I think we can all agree, an “absolute banger”) in between Jo’s monologues.
Arriving on stage naked, aside from a pair of briefs, Jo is dressed by her band mates in Ms Spears’ iconic red latex catsuit, platform heels, and an American-sweetheart blonde wig. Jo’s monologues are like little essays, they’re funny and observant. I get the feeling they’re supposed to be startling or shocking – which they sometimes are, but they’re mostly just observant, honest and a little sad. But, sometimes, someone perfectly articulates a notion or feeling you’ve been experiencing all your life, and you think ‘Yes! That!’, and I experienced that at this show.
There were some extraordinarily bizarre elements, which I could see no artistic value to. For example, a banal, ‘Britney-esque’ I suppose, dance routine repeated again and again, Jo performing it naked with the lights low while the band play. Or Jo dancing maniacally and throwing blonde Britney wigs around, and then emptying a bag of human hair on their head which was truly stomach churning because human hair, when not attached to the human body, is always gross – fact. If felt as though they needed something to pad out the funny and wry soliloquies, and decided on these nonsensical faux avante-garde musical interludes.
The writing, the actual dialogue, is great, and Jo delivers it fearlessly, which I can only commend them for. I’d read a book of their essays any day. Would I see If Britney Can Get Through 2007, We Can Get Through This again? No. It is very intense, which is why the clever, light jokes are so enjoyable. A little self-indulgent and at times isolating, this show is not for the faint-hearted.
If Britney Can Get Through 2007, We Can Get Through This is playing at the Camden People’s Theatre until 9th March, as part of Sprint festival which runs until the end of March. For more information and tickets, see https://www.cptheatre.co.uk/production/if-britney-could-get-through-2007-we-can-get-through-this-2/