Yoga Bitch @ Theatre 503, London

written and performed by

Suzanne Morrison

directed by
Jean-Michele Gregory
Yoga Bitch sounds, on paper, like something more suited to the Edinburgh fringe than a show for one of London’s best new writing venues.

After all, this is the theatre that recently staged Stephen Brown’s Future Me, an edgy study of a paedophile’s rehabilitation into society, and George Gotts’ unnerving Cocoa. Charming though it is in places, Suzanne Morrison’s one woman isn’t quite in the same league.

Not that it isn’t entertaining, it’s just an oddly conventional choice for this venue. In Yoga Bitch Morrison tells the story of her two month stint in Bali training to be a yoga teacher. It’s a light-hearted piece, told in monologue form, with plenty of humorous anecdotes.

Slightly in awe of her charismatic yoga teacher Indra, Morrison chucks in her temp job (and contemplates chucking her boyfriend as well) before heading out to Indonesia in the hope of learning more about herself in the process. Once there, she finds her slightly nave dreams overshadowed by bouts of Bali-belly, Prada-lust and nicotine and sugar cravings. She also discovers the not-really-that-shocking reality that yoga is viewed by some, less as a source of spiritual enlightenment, then as a means to make a quick buck capitalising on people’s lifestyle-supplement fuelled need for quick-fix inner peace.

Drawing on her personal experiences, there are some nicely observed moments of comedy in the piece, though some of her jabs at her urine-drinking, sceneted candle-burning, hippy-dippy yoga-mates are a little obvious.

What stops this whole thing descending into self-indulgence (though it often teeters on the brink) is Morrison herself. She has an easy, warm presence as a performer and she knows how to hold an audience; what’s more, for all her cynicism about her Indonesian experience, she’s never overly cruel in her comedy, she’s not just out to mock and belittle. There’s a questing sense to her story, and she is occasionally insightful about the reasons why people seek out change in their lives and why they rarely achieve it, not true change anyway.

The show is performed on a fairly bare stage, with just a yoga mat and potted plant plus a couple of bamboo screens acting as a set. But though it clocks in at over an hour, my attention rarely wavered; Morrison’s capabilities as a storyteller kept me engaged and I found myself laughing along with increasing regularity. Indeed, the show is often more akin to stand-up then theatre. And while it’s certainly not in the same league as some of Theatre 503’s recent work, it was a bright and funny show which kept me entertained throughout.

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