(No) Leaves on my precious self is an endearing, honest and vulnerable piece of writing exploring the hardships of a career in a forever changing, always judging art form that some of us call work.
Kate Fabray’s one-woman medium creates a uniquely intimate platform for vulnerability within the confined space of the King’s Head Theatre not far from Angel tube station. Fabray gives us a powerful insight into the struggles of rejection, complexion and subjection of being judged on a daily basis in order to earn a living. As she relives audition after audition we get the chance to experience being the panel at an audition as we watch her consciousness create nerves due to overthinking and simply by our powerful position. We feel for Fabray as she shares the commonly felt audition room experiences of jealousy, worry and self-deprecation. However, not once does Fabray demonstrate these emotions self-indulgently or as if she is “an attention seeking whore”, but rather she tells us the story of the actor on a humane level; honestly, without crocodile tears. She argues with her inner judges sitting in her head telling her she’s “always been a drama queen” and asking if this is true. It would be true to say that she explores the struggles with a fair degree of evenness and objectivity.
Unfortunately, at times her speech is not clear, and a language barrier does undermine her attempt to affect us. Her audition songs ‘Worst things I could do’ and ‘Maybe this time’ are slightly off-keel to the notes as written by the composers. However, her acting through song, embellished by her vulnerability in front of the imagined panel of judges, is deeply influential. Yet, her choice of choreography is limited and does not show off her skills as an artist well. On the other hand I can only complement the writing of the piece; it is to the point, compelling, important and surprisingly not over-dramatised.
The endearing tones are laced throughout the shortcomings and the hurdles of rejection, as Fabray unravels the cliché of every artist’s inspiration; her first school play where she stood resilient as a tree. Impressively, Fabray commits to this story with a higher meaning, endowing her tree with the importance of the roots and the visceral response she felt as a child of the wind in her finger-like branches. This simple imagery is a touch-base for Fabray to come back to despite her times of feeling unwanted or not good enough as every actor feels when compared to hundreds of other people who look sound or breathe exactly the same way!
(No) Leaves On My Precious Self is not exactly a master class in how to sing or dance to a professional standard, but it is an exemplary story and one that is important to share and actually reassuring and life affirming to watch as a performer that; no matter what the outcome of your toils and endless uphill climbs just to make ends meet, you can always find something greater – just like Fabray’s assurance as she played the best tree that ever grew on a school play stage.
(No) Leaves on my precious self is playing King’s Head until 13 October. For further information and tickets, please click here.