Review: Jellyfish Brains

This show feels like being submerged underwater and asked whether there is any point in love if it is so similar to pain

Two people dressed in pink sweatsuits are playing a clapping game behind a plastic curtain. They are laughing. At us or at each other? One of them comes up to a guy in the first row: “Do you have games on your phone?”, she says: “Do you have Wordle?”. She puts in “jelly” then “brain”, and the chaotic masterpiece that is Jellyfish Brains begins.

The scenes make no sense. There is no plot. Or is there? Is this a story of a beginning or an end? Are they in love? And who are they?

This play is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. I am not sure it is mine. But although its message and purpose remained somewhat elusive to me, this show managed to grab my attention and proved to be thoroughly entertaining to watch. It felt like being pulled into someone else’s subconscious, while blindfolded, with glitter—though I intend this as a compliment. This play managed to seamlessly blend the philosophical with the absurd, in a manner that is both intriguing and delightful. The director and writer Sarah Fowler definitely put a lot of thought into the show. The fact that the narrative smoothly goes from Shakespearean scenes to a routine argument over frying eggs is mind-boggling.  The script is thought-provoking, and the visuals are outstanding.

Image credits: Albi Rix

The cast did a great job bringing this play to life. Georgia Emanuel and Sam Ericsson as 1 and 2 were absolutely phenomenal. Their interactions with the audience, from saying that you stink of mortality to untying everyone’s shoelaces, were absolutely brilliant. You can expect a lot of chaos from them—tap dancing to Ave Maria for example—and they deliver it perfectly. Their randomness and craziness were probably my favourite parts of the show.

Image credits: Albi Rix

Martha Alexander, playing Viola, also showcased incredible talent. Her yelling from pain and rage while descending into madness was astonishing. Her intense gaze and wild expressions sent shivers down my spine. Caleb Marlow, who played Orsino, was extremely passionate. And his more erotic scenes were intense. Both actors were able to change their emotions instantly, switching from happiness to sadness, from excitement to anger, from hate to love. Their chemistry was riveting, and the way they moved together was marvellous.

Image credits: Albi Rix

This show featured an absolutely stunning jellyfish, which I would call the pinnacle of prop design. It was magical, it was beautiful and the way it moved through the air was incredibly mesmerising. The atmosphere of the show in general was out of this world. Technical Director/Sound Monkey Aaron Corcoran-Lockley did an amazing job with the music and lights. The ambience was captivating, and the psychedelic music made this a transformative experience.

Jellyfish brains is both tragic and comedic, intriguing and perplexing. It prompts questions like “What is love?” and “Should I be high for this?”. My feelings about this performance are mixed. I think I liked it? It was cool and exciting and occasionally uncomfortable. It was fun to watch and hard to understand. But overall it is worth seeing.


Jellyfish Brains is showing on the 9th – 11th of May at 7:00 pm at Pembroke New Cellars. Book your tickets here.

Feature image credits: Albi Rix  

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