Em Oliver’s Beautiful Nothing is a play that will stay with you long after you step out of the theatre. The play starring Bhav Amar and directed by Charlie Barnett brings the audience into the life of movie star, Anya.
From the outset, the play seems to be a predictable overdone story in which a much-loved celebrity does not enjoy their life in the limelight. However, Beautiful Nothing goes way beyond this conventional tale as it explores sexuality and the dangers of online fame and it’s this that makes the play a five-star play.
One-woman shows can have the tendency almost to bore their audience as a forty-minute monologue can often feel difficult to sit through. Alternatively, Beautiful Nothing rectifies this by writing with a rhythm, one that incorporates audience participation to create an engaging play. Two rhetorical and the other non-questioning questions keep the audience’s attention and bring us further into Anya’s world.
Though it is not a surprise that female celebrities have been victims of non-consensual photoshop, the idea that young female celebrities have been photoshopped into pornographic scenes is not a theme that is discussed in society, let alone one of the main subjects of a play. Beautiful Nothing uses this to highlight the dark side of fame that is often experienced by young female actresses like Anya.
Those in charge of Anya’s public image are obsessed with creating and maintaining her false front. So much so that what seem to be close friendships and romantic relationships are just illusions to the public eye, instead they are carefully curated coffee dates and timetable collisions with Anya’s co-stars. In addition to her public life being fake, Anya begins to question her sexuality after realising that her curated public life has created disillusion in her personal life.
Furthermore, the truth behind Anya’s relationship with her mother and father is continually revealed throughout the performance. Ultimately reminding the audience just how controlled Anya’s life has been, and how society’s hunger for the perfect “IT Girl” can make young female celebrities like Anya, victims to the media.
Beautiful Nothing was at theSpace @ Surgeons Hall (Haldane Theatre) August 15-20 at 10:00.
Image credit: courtesy of Beautiful Nothing, provided to The Student as press material.