tue 19/11/2019

Ruby Wax, Brighton Festival 2019 review - how to be human | reviews, news & interviews

Ruby Wax, Brighton Festival 2019 review - how to be human

Ruby Wax, Brighton Festival 2019 review - how to be human

An evening of laughs alongside real lessons in mindfulness and neurology

How to remain real in an increasingly inhuman world

Once the self proclaimed poster girl for mental illness, Ruby Wax has evolved her stand up act, because, as she puts it, “everyone has mental illness now. It spread like wildfire.”

It’s a tongue in cheek reference to the current supposed "fashion" for speaking up and out about mental health with the aim to de-stigmatise and taboo-bust – something that Wax has contributed hugely to over the years, by bravely opening up about her own journey to let other people know that it was OK to not be OK.

Having left showbiz to pursue a Masters Degree in mindfulness based cognitive therapy at Oxford university, she’s interested now in the brain, the why of who we are, the questions around “why us is us” and so she has evolved her repertoire, looking instead at how to be human in an increasingly automated world, referencing a future where “robots are going to collect us like old antiques”. In this new show she talks about evolution – the physical, the neurological and the spiritual – how we have adapted physically as humans in an amazingly capable way, but emotionally not so much.

Taking to a lectern she gives a hilarious, faux lecture in subjects like evolution, tribes, brains, thoughts, emotions and forgiveness. She’s amiable and endearing  as opposed to loud and obnoxious (which for some reason is what I was expecting). Her delivery on a personal interpretation of these subjects, relating them to humans in general as well as her own experience evokes belly laughs rather than titters. By the time she comes to presenting her relationship theory in the medium of modern dance, the audience is in hysterics. Her words are straight up, we learn accessible contextual facts and her delivery is honest and hilarious. It’s a winning formula.

For the second half of the show she is joined by neuroscientist and clinical neurologist Dr Ash Ranpura and Buddhist monk Gelong Thubten, and the theatre becomes a talk show. Acting as host to her discerning pals, she pokes fun at them and conducts the chat, allowing them to strike up a healthy debate around the mechanisms that govern our life, whether cognitive or mindful – discussing whether cosmic orgasms are dopamine related and how if practicing meditation makes you sad, that can actually be a good thing. 

The show is as much of a lesson in how we should all become Buddhists as it is "how to be human". Whether and how humans have further to go in their emotional evolution, it's interesting to see how Ruby's thought process has moved towards scientific study alongside spiritual lessons in a move away from the trappings of (self confessed) narcissism and into the realms of mindful.

Her words are straight up, we learn accessible contextual facts and her delivery is honest and hilarious. It’s a winning formula.


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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