Theatre in your bathroom? That is exactly what Patrycja Dynowska’s show Sh*t Happens delivers. I find myself on a one-to-one Zoom call with the Polish actress as we are talking from the comfort of our own home — or more specifically, the most intimate place in the house: the toilet.
Her improvised one-woman show opens with the ultimate icebreaker: what does my toilet smell like? To be honest, I am not sure if anybody has ever asked me that question. And that is exactly what Sh*t Happens is about: the things we never talk about and the ‘taboos’ surrounding number two.
In order to ease into the show, Dynowska offers to share some of her best and worst toilet experiences. I have to name a vehicle or setting and will hear about one of her many unpleasant (yet quite funny) toilet situations. She continues to explore awkward situations, stigma and intolerances in an accommodating way. Dynowska even delivers a funny but crucial song about her food allergies and intolerances from inside her own bathroom. And so, the play reveals its true meaning.
It turns out that the Polish actress is suffering from ulcerative colitis — an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) similar to Chron’s disease. With Sh*t Happens she is trying to raise awareness and educate about these common yet easily forgotten diseases. She shares her experience and her struggle while maintaining a fun and sympathetic connection.
But this is the point at which the show-feeling fades and Sh*t Happens becomes more like a pep-talk. What started as a funny, interactive piece of homemade theatre turns into a friendly get-together with Dynowska (including a Q&A on IBDs). There are a lot of options when you find yourself sitting in a bathroom, face-to-face with a complete stranger on Zoom. And Dynowska is not quite exhausting these in her show.
Dynowska successfully brings the topic of IBDs and invisible illnesses into the conversation (I know much more than I did before) and tries to lift the taboo of illnesses like these. Invisible illnesses need to be talked about more and she is right in saying that more people should know about them. But I do find myself hoping for more performance and less “shit-chat”, considering that we are literally two strangers sitting on our toilets having a discussion about bowel diseases.
All in all, Sh*t Happens is a fun one-to-one improvised performance with a lot of potential that can perhaps be explored post-lockdown.
Sh*t Happens is playing as part of Voila! Festival until 20 November. For more information and tickets visit the Voila! Festival website.