Buzzing is a 50-minute coming of age monologue about middle age, primarily its erotic aspects, or lack there of. Written and performed by Debbie Bird, the piece focuses on the character of Judy as she discovers sex toys, menopause and self love in this reflective and playful performance.
There’s no denying that Bird is a talented performer and sensitive writer, acknowledging the intimacy and natural awkwardness of the subjects she tackles but not forcing it upon her audience. Most of the character’s quips and anecdotes land well with the audience, evoking guilty chuckles and at times, more impressively, captivated silences.
My problems with Buzzing are primarily personal. I personally found the humour outdated and stale at times. The piece would occasionally resort to seemingly mindless slapstick involving sex toys and tight skirts, which was like the water dissolving the bath bomb of sophistication in the piece until it’s remnants were nearly unsalvageable. However, the persistence in her character paired with her natural likeability as a performer kept it afloat.
Mark Harrelly’s direction of the piece, however, attempts to drown the piece and empty it of any intelligence and delicacy it has going for it. The physical comedy that is desperately crammed into the piece at any possible moment saps the humour that Bird obviously worked hard on conceiving through her writing. There is an apparent irony about the fact that the Harrelly’s direction almost makes this piece about female empowerment, one that caricatures the subject and verges on mildly patronising.
The part of the piece that really intrigued me was the last fifteen minutes, where Bird shed her quirky over-excited exterior and showed a true maturity towards the subjects that she’d acted so aloof and playful with prior to this segment, adding so much more substance to the cheaper gags.
Buzzing will not be everyone’s cup of tea. It wasn’t mine and I wouldn’t see it again. However, it was impossible to deny the greatly positive response from the audience all the way through. Bird has crafted a solid one-woman show, and although it may be for those of a specific taste, it’s bound to tick all of the boxes of that demographic.