Edinburgh Fringe 2022
Able(ish) is a monologue about one woman’s uphill struggle applying for disability support while coming to terms with her own strengths and limitations.
In her early twenties Tamara Al-Bassam arrived in London full of plans, hopes and dreams for adventures in a new city. Her body had other ideas and Able(ish) is her personal story of navigating everyday life when your body betrays you woven in with inspirational tales of women from history who achieved much despite battling mystery illnesses and disbelieving doctors. Reading from a reflective journal marking each year of decline she tells us of denial, determination to carry on as normal, and finally acquiescence. Al-Bassam recounts her loss of independence through those tiny everyday competencies we take for granted – getting up and down stairs, remembering recipes, eating upright at a table; navigating the social security system piles on the emotional agony. However this isn’t a misery memoire – Al-Bassam and co-writer (and director) Jamie Bamber have a lightness of touch as story tellers and are not asking for pity. Finally getting a diagnosis she likens her chronic illness to an unwelcome smelly camel which refuses to leave its master’s tent.
The performance style fits with Al-Bassam’s needs to manage energy levels, so is a neat way of showing how we have to, and can, adapt and function, however it would be good for the company to explore other ways of presenting what can at times be a static piece, perhaps an illustrative soundscape and projection. This is a show which will spark recognition in audience members who are negotiating similar difficult journeys, and ends on a note of positivity for the future.