The King’s Arms, Salford; Saturday 20th July, 2019
Louise is approaching the millennial finish line: the grand old age of thirty. But hers is no race where completion will see her dumped onto some proverbial scrap heap, Louise seems to have life fully sorted.
She has the look: specifically of a social media influencer – stylish outfit; stylish shades; leather jacket; designer handbag; even a suitcase packed and ready to go on a fancy holiday abroad.
She has the behaviours too: she treats her hair like a pet – massages it and feeds it salmon apparently; eyelashes are pure perfection; fake tan top-ups are regular and regimented.
She has a man too: “I’ve got the man,” she says. He’s a keeper, her Nan confirmed it after he was summoned to meet the family.
All the accessories seem to be in place, it’s all looking good. There’s only one problem: she can’t sleep. She says she’s fine, but she just can’t get to sleep at night and it’s really annoying.
And then it all comes out, all the symptoms, one by one. All of them. Things definitely aren’t ok for Louise.
Emergency Door Release is the venting of a pressure valve, a long-overdue rant that can no longer be contained. Writer and performer Victoria Tunnah delivers the role of Louise in the form of a one-woman, hour-long sit down chat – with the audience effectively taking on the role of listener for a mate who just needs to let off steam.
As with any mate who goes off on one, there are several moments where the urge to raise a hand and interject is strong; Louise is ok as a mate but she’s a bit wired, she seems to need a fairly firm “Mate, chill out, it ain’t that bad” kind of intervention.
But if you were a proper mate maybe sometimes it’s best to just let her rant? Just let her get things off her chest?
What comes across so well in both the writing and the convincing performance delivery is the colossal gravity of it all. Louise has a shit job where she is told she’s missing targets. Well fuck it, just get a new job. But when she starts talking about how life is shit and how she’s missing those targets – well you can’t just change your life can you?
Louise represents the millennial rebel: she played the game right and did everything she was told, but it doesn’t seem to be good enough, the promised prizes are not materialising and somehow it’s her fault – no wonder she’s reaching for the emergency door release, the game of collecting accessories just doesn’t seem worth playing anymore.