Can Kindness Change the World? This question has certainly got Bristol interested because there isn’t one seat left at the Brewery Theatre!
It’s August 2011 and society in England seems to be crumbling – youths riot in our cities, shops looted, cars burned. There is discontent and fear. In Deptford, South London, Bernadette Russell gives a hoodie-in-need the small change to make up the price of a stamp. This tiny act changes his day. Perhaps it changes her life.
Not always having been an overly kind person, illustrated to us by her litany of bad and ordinarily naughty things she has got up to in her life, Bernadette embarks on a campaign of kindness. Every day for a (leap) year, she will do one small thing that will, hopefully, make a stranger happy. And so, armed with her Rules of Kindness, she bakes cakes, gives away books, hands out cash, write little notes and scatters them, sends cards, gifts flowers. The recipient should be random – those who look fed-up, those who do a lot for others, those in need, grumpy people …
Bernadette is an excitable sort of a woman and her delivery is, at times, a little hysterical, meaning that her journey is relayed with humour and passion. Gareth Brierley, her boyfriend, is supportive but maybe not so enthused by the plan, having borne the brunt of some of her previous crazy schemes. His laid-back manner gives good balance to Bernadette’s frenzied performance and he’s a necessary element to this show.
366 days of kindness includes interviews and video footage, photos, pie charts, Billy Bragg, religion, a song about Fear, Dad dancing, a little audience participation and lots of wonderful shoes.
I think that, in real life, every day kindness would work much better without shoving a camera in the face of the recipient. You know, a more subtle approach? But that’s not Bernadette’s style! And we thank her for this frankness, otherwise we wouldn’t have enjoyed 80 minutes of energetic, fun storytelling. I came away thinking that, yes, I do exercise random acts of kindness. Perhaps I’ll make an effort to do more?
So, what’s the answer to that question? Well, on a micro-scale, it’s a yes. Isn’t it?
366 Days of Kindness is on at Brewery Theatre until Weds 5th March, 8:15pm
You can see more about Bernadette Russell’s project on her website
– Review by Becky Condron