Since U Been Gone review – life-affirming study of grief, gender and friendship | Stage
The ache of lost time is contained in this delicate monologue grappling with grief and gender. With simple stagecraft and raw storytelling, Teddy Lamb’s Since U Been Gone is about the people who make us, and how they continue to do so long after they’re gone.
Lamb addresses the audience as if we are their best friend – not a generic one but the one they lost several years ago. They catch us up on news; mental health, America’s Next Top Model, pronouns. They turn over the script of grief, battle through regret and emerge after an hour, a bit broken but somehow fuller, prouder, shining. Nicol Parkinson shimmers on guitar throughout, producing tender synth-pop chords and humorous twangs to match the tone of the performance.
Lamb articulates the thorny side of friendship – how we let each other down no matter how much we care, and how the pressure of being someone’s life support can sometimes be too much. Running alongside this thread of friendship is one of identity, as Lamb grows into their newfound confidence as trans non-binary. While these new pronouns fit like a glove, they say it is like growing up all over again, and without their best friend, this time they have to do it alone.
However tough its subject matter, Since U Been Gone is buoyant, as theatre becomes a place of exploration, distraction and safety. Lamb bursts with charisma and generosity, with the occasional snarky aside only adding to their charm. The piece takes a while to find its feet and some transitions are clunky, but it is bold, honest and swollen with love. As the opening chords of Kelly Clarkson start to play, the audience – cheeks scrubbed raw from tears – leave with the pang of wanting to call a friend who can no longer pick up the phone.