Auto-Engrain: A One-Woman Show (2023), Online, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
We Are Bosstress
Ella Faye Donley (Director) Helena Collins O’Connor (Writer) Brandon Baruch (Asst Director)
Helena Collins O’Connor
Running time

This is not an easy review to write. The live streaming of the performance was done via Zoom. And technically the filming appears to be done via a phone positioned to the side of the stage and one row back from the front. The image once the show commences is not the highest resolution and I think because of the noise cancelling function of the phone’s microphone the sound levels constantly drop and increase and voices were frequently distorted. At about 5 minutes in a late arrival sits down in front of the camera and blocks the view, no problem as she soon realises her error and moves away. 30 minutes into the show the broadcast is halted by a banner from Zoom saying the time is up and would I like to take out a professional membership to enable extended time periods. The Zoom broadcast is restarted however and my viewing resumes. You get the idea, it’s not the smoothest live broadcast and it significantly impedes the enjoyment of the performance. I think if you’re going to charge people £7.50 for a Zoom full price ticket it needs to be slightly smoother, better and more competent than this.

Helena Collins O’Connor performs most of this semi autobiographical show. We eaves drop on her therapy session while an inanimate voice asks her questions. She is looking backwards at an extremely toxic relationship she has ended and coming to terms with the physical and psychological violence she endured during the encounter. Helena is a funny woman and her writing is clear and insightful. We learn quickly of her life and academic training as a botanist and this soon transitions and merges with her love life. It also enters the dark turmoil of the domestic violence she encounters.

Stages or chapters of this bad relationship are skilfully described and Helena’s self doubt, confidence, humour and despair are defined, described in heart stopping honesty. Sadly for me the poor technical quality of the streaming meant that I was constantly missing or trying to interpret something I could not quite hear and this smassively impacted my experience of the show. It is clear the writer/performer is a skilled actor and has created a compelling piece of work, sadly I wasn’t able to appreciate significant parts of it hence the 2 stars. If I had been sat in the audience unimpeded by the technical problems it may well have been 4.   


Delivered Online
Available: August 27th
Suitability: 18+
Tickets: Full £7.50 Concession: £5