In her one-woman show Mustard, Eva O’Connor plays E, a young Irish woman in London, grappling with heartache and teetering on the edge of madness. With jars of mustard and an inflatable paddling pool in tow, she proceeds to tell the story of her doomed love affair with a professional cyclist and subsequent breakdown.
It all begins in a grotty nightclub where, after ingesting an unidentified substance found in a sanitary bin, our heroine meets the man of her dreams. They hit it off and he takes her back to his palatial home in Crouch End. A one-night stand blossoms into a relationship and she moves in with him. Or, rather, he doesn’t ask her to leave.
Things soon sour, however, when he returns home from a cycling tournament with a new blonde woman on his arm. They part ways, leaving E in a state of free-fall. Her mind goes to mustard.
Sense of self
It's here that the significance of the condiment becomes clear. Mustard, as we learn, is an unhealthy coping mechanism she turns to in times of stress. She proceeds to fill the pool with spoonfuls of mustard and slather herself in the stuff. It's a form of self-harm, a way of exercising control. Her behaviour prompts concern from her mother and she returns home to Ireland.
Mustard is a tale of grief, addiction, and losing your sense of self. Part Fleabag, part Marina Abramovi, it straddles the line between theatre and performance art. Eva O’Connor delivers a fiery performance that never wavers in its intensity, whether she’s rattling off caustic remarks or daubing her body in hot yellow mustard.
Her writing, too, is strong. The script is densely packed with jokes and rich metaphors and she explores the issue of mental health with sensitivity and aplomb. Certain elements of the show may warrant a little more exploration and the ending doesn’t quite pack the punch it wants to, but Mustard nonetheless ought to resonate with audiences.
Until September 19th