A year to remember

366 Days of Kindness

Birmingham Rep Door

****

IN August 2011, Bernadette Russell witnessed the broiling anger of England erupt in front of her eyes in the London borough of Deptford, where she lived. This was, of course, the London Riots.

Clearly, these chilling and audacious events still have an effect on us as a society today and at Birmingham Rep’s Door, Russell gave us her response in a bold and truthful way.

Bringing raw scenes back to our memories, Russell demonstrated how she bit back by deciding that she had to perform an act of kindness to a stranger every single day for a year (366 days to make sure a leap year was included) and ultimately find the answer the question ‘Can kindness change the world?’

With the help of Gareth Brierley, a charismatic and charming performer, Russell took us through her autobiographical journey of performing the task of saving the world with kindness.

This inspiring little story had a wonderful attraction, breaking down the illusion that only certain people possess the skills to do good deeds. With heartfelt explanations, it was hard not to be inspired by Russell’s decision, after she explained to us that being kind was not always her forte.

Directed by Tessa Walker, there was a great personal connection between audience and performers. The elements of incorporating her discoveries through daily acts of kindness were delightfully covered with recordings of those who inspired her most.

These responses from real people during her project were constantly played throughout. A vicar and a charity shop worker were particular favourites of the audience. Russell showed us that being kind was not a rule purely for her to follow alone, but an invite to the whole world, so that they may join in to conquer sorrow and change it for the better.

The intimate and cosy studio space of The Door only enhanced the beauty of the subject all the more. Russell told her story as though she already knew everyone by name, becoming personal friends by the end.

Her 366 days of Kindness is so much more than a theatrical production. It is a cry asking us all to stop being scared of extraneous factors, particularly other people, government and plain simple human nature. Russell wants us to learn from others, just as she did, in the hope that we can overcome corruption and perform the small task of being kind to our fellow human. To 21-12-13

Elizabeth Halpin 

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