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.
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.