Saving Britney review – a Spears superfan breaks the ice | Theatre


Oops she did it again. Britney mania has got another millennial teenager obsessed. Still, Jean is a superfan with a difference. With 172 similarities to the popstar, and the ability to understand the coded messages hidden within her songs before anyone else, Jean is convinced she is the only person who can save Britney.

Inspired by the New York Times documentary and the #FreeBritney movement, Saving Britney details the life of the celebrity from her early days in the Mickey Mouse Club to the present day by Shereen Roushbaiani who speaks as an American narrator into a plastic yellow toy microphone. Intersected with long monologue sections from Jean (also played by Roushbaiani), listing reasons why her life has been devoted to the singer, it gives an intricate insight into the mind of an engrossed enthusiast. But while the subject matter feels topical, the solo drama fails to keep us engaged.

Roushbaiani plays the ADHD-diagnosed Jean with youthful confidence. Her 90s childhood bedroom has been transformed into a shrine to Britney. Decorated with a homemade collage dedicated to her on the back wall, it is clear that the star has been present for many of her defining life moments. During her sexual awakening with a female classmate, Britney’s famed kiss with Madonna at the MTV Video Music Awards played on the TV. It was Britney who was there for Jean after her mum died. They even share a birthday – despite it being eight years apart.

But though Roushbaiani is full of energy, after 70 minutes watching her alone on stage, her performance becomes grating. Written by David Shopland, many of the lines are cringeworthy rather than naturalistic, and while she tries hard to get the audience laughing, most of her self-deprecating jokes fall flat.

The crescendo is Jean’s realisation that, even with such an intense love for Britney, she also might be part of the problem that caused her collapse. But with her whole life fixation falling apart so quickly, this conclusion feels hurried. Britney is an idol to so many, but in this case Jean’s worshipping doesn’t quite land.

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