In today’s digital age societies are more connected than ever before. This hyper inter connectivity means that wifi, broadband, smartphones and tablets allow those with access to click, post, share and like at the drop of a hat. Everything is digitised. Ironically, it’s in this world that we’re introduced to Chanje Kunda. Initially we are told very little about her as she sits resplendent on a tanned Edwardian leather sofa sipping wine – ‘one of her ‘five a day’.
Plant Fetish is a one women show where the central character, a single mum, suffers from complex PTSD. Underneath the wit and humour Kunda’s protagonist wants to belong. She wants acceptance and the connection humans crave from loving relationships.
The story follows Kunda’s tragic efforts to meet Mr Right; both through the traditional methods (bars and clubs) and by social media dating apps. The humour with which she shares these stories is palpable – not every joke hits the mark but most do; and when they do they leave the audience in fits of laughter. The laughter, however, masks a sadness. A sadness borne of isolation – she has a son. Teenage. XBox obsessed. He doesn’t know it but he’s her rock. The reason she wakes up each day. There must have been a man there once – the father – but he’s never mentioned. Instead she quotes motivational yogi mantras; visits art galleries and tries to give love one more chance – just one more time.
Underpinning her quest for normality, is the ‘Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing’ therapy (or EMDR) she’s receiving for her complex PTSD. We’re informed that the ‘complex’ label is medically ascribed when the patient has suffered multiple traumas. Whilst adults can handle trauma differently; children also have a mechanism for handling trauma – the most common is to lock the trauma away and disassociate it from emotion. This works well, Chanje tells us until you reach your capacity. At which point this state triggers nightmares during sleep or flashbacks when awake.
Following several failed relationship attempts Chanje opts to visit an art gallery as there she finds calmness and order in the colours and spaces. She later finds an article about women in Mexico who are marrying trees. This sets in motion a moment of inspiration. Having already exercised her home of all unnecessary clutter a la the Marie Kondo method and invested in plants for every room in a bid to release stress from her life. It only seems natural that marrying a plant is a logical progression. Trees are sturdy, strong and dependable. All the qualities one wants.
Chanje’s open and frank persona engages you straight away. We invest in her plight and want to know what happens next. We watch as she balances her social media world, her love life, motherhood and her mental illness. We’re watching so closely that when the idea of marriage to plants is introduced – we respond with … well, why not?
Plant Fetish is described as a work in progress, however with its precocious lead at the helm, it already has the hallmark of an engaging and competent piece of drama.★ ★ ★ ★