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Theatre Review: Touretteshero's Backstage in Biscuitland at Nottingham Playhouse

10 March 16 words: Ollie Smith
"Joyful, open and ruddy hilarious. Confident in its simplicity and full of the vitality of life, it proves Tourette's is much less 'demonic possession', much more 'brain having a 24/7 creativity party'"
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Don't talk about mummy's tits.

Tourette’s is a neurological condition affecting more than 300,000 people in the UK. It manifests itself differently in different people, but vocal and/or physical (motor) 'tics' are common characteristics. Jess Thom was diagnosed with Tourettes in her twenties, having had tics since childhood. Among a vibrantly colourful array of other words and phrases, the condition currently causes Jess to involuntarily say 'biscuit' 16,000 times a day. (And she openly admits she doesn't really care that much for biscuits one way or the other.)

Touretteshero is Jess's project that acknowledges the humour and humanity tied up deep within her condition and lays it bare in gleeful celebration. In her words, the project is 'changing the world one tic at a time'. Backstage in Biscuit Land is subsequently a hilarious, affecting and beautifully honest piece of performance; a 'two-woman solo show' that lives in the moment and embraces everything thrown at the room with an anarchic twinkle in its eye.

What makes this piece so special is that any sort of tight script goes out the window. Biscuit Land lives; it breathes; spontaneous responses to Jess's outbursts are improvised off-the-cuff, skilfully illustrating what it's like living with Tourette’s. Consequently, no two performances can ever be the same. The unique unpredictability, which Jess owns and so clearly loves, means we're live, we're dangerous, and the buoyant atmosphere constantly pulses with convivial, edge-of-seat energy.

The show contains abdomen-achingly funny physical demonstrations – involving gameshows, puppets and strawberries – effectively played against moments of textual autobiography. Jess's personal storytelling gives the piece its political bite as we consider segregation, disability rights and the consequences of this government's persistent stripping the NHS. But we never lose the sense of positivity. Both performers tear through the show at lightning speed with vivacious enthusiasm and in the highest of spirits. The hour flies by like a real-life superhero.

Backstage in Biscuit Land is joyful, open and ruddy hilarious. Confident in its simplicity and full of the vitality of life, it proves Tourette’s is much less 'demonic possession', much more 'brain having a 24/7 creativity party'.  We're told if something is funny, then it's OK to laugh. The effect is a glitteringly surreal, under-the-radar lesson in what it is to be human.

Read our interview with Touretteshero here

Touretteshero’s Backstage in Biscuit Land is on at Nottingham Playhouse from Wednesday 9 – Thursday 10 March 2015, £13/£15. Get tickets here, quick! 

Touretteshero website

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