We’ve all had one. In fact, we’ve probably all had many. Those moments where your stomach hits the floor as the full impact of what you’ve just done looms menacingly overhead, where your heart races as you calculate how to escape from the mess, where you want to drop down dead on the spot so as never to have to confront another living being ever again. The lesson to learn is that these ‘Oh Fuck’ moments are okay. They are not the end of the world – in fact, to err is human.
The audience sit around a conference table, nursing mugs of tea and laughing nervously as they are prompted to confront their own ‘Oh Fuck’ moments. It makes for an intimate hour, carefully handled by Hannah Jane Walker and Chris Thorpe, whose warm amiability makes them feel like trusted friends from the outset and ensures that no-one feels uncomfortable divulging the darker moments from their past. The pair casually investigate our skewed attitudes to getting things wrong, putting mistakes in perspective – not to lessen their impact for the individual but to contextualise them in a long line of fuck-ups from the Titanic to Fukushima. Yet Walker and Thorpe’s message is not an apology for incompetence, and the necessity to learn from one’s mistakes quickly comes to the fore.
A loosely strung collection of anecdotes, confessions, poetry and persuasion, The Oh Fuck Moment is surprisingly gentle, yet delivers a message strong enough to ensure that this anxiously reluctant wrongdoer leaves thinking differently about her approach to making mistakes. Walker and Thorpe strike a good balance between the lighter side of fucking up – texting inappropriate things to the wrong people – and the poignancy of an ‘Oh Fuck’ moment that you will never be able to make good. Thorpe’s own moving recollection of his father’s last hours is a jolt to the heart, while the story of a man too embarrassed to call an ambulance and thus bleeding to death will have you squirming in the seat. While Walker and Thorpe’s delivery tends towards the verbose, it successfully heightens the theatre of the piece in such an informal setting, and the poetry and monologues provide welcome moments for reflection.
In a world telling us constantly to be better, it is initially jarring, yet ultimately liberating, to be told that getting things wrong is okay.
Read Hannah Jane Walker’s essay on intimacy and performance.