REVIEW: Saving Britney at The Old Electric: "Female empowerment meets 90s nostalgia in witty one-woman play"

Female empowerment meets 90s nostalgia in witty one-woman play

By Lucinda Herbert
Thursday, 24th March 2022, 11:30 am
Updated Thursday, 24th March 2022, 11:59 am

Twenty years ago the #freebritney movement just couldn’t have happened. Teenage girls in the late 90’s just weren’t as empowered as they are today – I speak from experience. We couldn’t create patriarchy-smashing hashtags on social media – we had dial-up internet, for one.

Who were we to say that pop stars didn’t really look like their airbrushed posters in Smash Hits, and that their voices weren’t as sickly-sweet as they sounded on CD:UK?

This one-woman production stars Shareen Roushbaiani as Britney Superfan, Jean. She spends her days getting tipsy on alcopops, practising high-kicks and moderating the official Britney facebook group.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Shareen Roushbaiani as Jean in Saving Britney, a play by David Shopland

The millennial raconteur held my attention with her bubbly stage presence – she mourns the death of Opal Fruits and Our Price, and recalls the dawn of Napster.

With self-depreciating wit, Roushbaiani reflects on celebrity obsession – how fandom fills the void when we’re at our most vulnerable. Britney is like the best friend that Jean has never met – supporting her through major life events – funerals and school discos alike.

But when grown-up Jean flies to New York to join fellow fanatics in saving Britney from the conservatorship that deems her unfit to manage her own finances - Jean realises she really needs to save herself.

This is light-hearted nostalgia, and powerful commentary on how society has treated women in the public eye over the last quarter-decade. it’s a tough task to hold an audience with just one performer but writer/director, David Shopland and Roushbaiani have succeeded.