The whole world has been shaken by Framing Britney Spears, the documentary which revealed that the princess of pop wasn’t a cheerful lucky girl from Mickey Mouse Club, but a deeply unhappy victim of conservatorship helmed by her father. Shereen Roushbaiani, an actor, and David Shopland, a writer, were shocked to the extent that they decided to create a powerful, dynamic and emotional production, Saving Britney.
Despite the title, however, the one-woman show performed at the Old Red Lion Theatre is not about the iconic celebrity, although the stage design, composed of her photos, albums and most renowned outfits, definitely pays a little ironic yet heart-warming tribute to Britney. Instead, Roushbaiani, weaves two parallel life stories of the pop princess herself, and her devoted super fan, Jean. Smoothly switching between American and English accent, she gracefully shows how Britney’s music accompanied Jean in the most significant moments of her life, including her parents’ divorce, sexual awakening, different relationships or her mother’s death.
Britney, therefore, is just an excuse to tell a very universal story of love, sadness, pain and devotion. The audience, gathered at the Old Lion Theatre for the first press night after 425 days, enthusiastically reacted to well-written jokes, but that isn’t to say there isn’t a sadness at the heart of this production. Jean’s confession how Britney helped her to realize her pansexuality is extremely powerful yet touching, pure and genuine.
Shereen Roushbaiani, as a very graceful and dynamic actor, and interacts with the audience naturally and smoothly. She also engages unaffectedly with stage props like a plastic toy microphone or pink boombox, which perfectly recreate the nostalgic atmosphere of the Noughties. The expressive performance and vibrant stage movement can feel a little overwhelming in an intimate space like the Old Red Lion Theatre. On the other hand, her undeniable musical talent and very effortless vocal gift should be more exposed.
Although sometimes corny, Fake Escape’s Saving Britney, which was proceeded by an online prologue earlier this year, is unpretentious, emotional, amusing and moving. This is why, after the show, you will probably feel like saying, GIMME MORE.
Saving Britney is at The Old Red Lion Theatre until 5th June 2021.