Mrs Delgado, Mike Bartlett’s isolational, observational solo play, opened in Oxford in December 2021, and comes to Bath in the very week that the nation has been focused on the rules that accompanied the arrival of Covid-19 and how we kept them.
Set in a small section of an urban street, it’s all about those big issues we confronted in lockdown – loneliness, community, kindness, responsibility, choice … And about how we approached them.
Helen, who sees herself as duty bound to keep the rules and ensure their compliance by those around her, is horrified to see her elderly neighbour Mrs Delgado openly flouting governmental instructions. She might not have always applied the letter of the law in terms of recreational stimulants, but now is the time to step up.
Octogenarian Mrs D has a very different approach and it’s Helen’s duty to put her right, both to save the old lady’s life and to protect those around her.
I imagine that most of us have an opinion on Badly Thatched Boy and his chums and their approach to partying in the No 10 garden during lockdown, and every day that opinion gets a bit more entrenched. So it is particularly interesting to meet Bartlett’s protagonists.
Comedian, actor and writer Ellen Robertson performs this 60-minute play, vividly encapsulating the obsessive, well-meaning and paranoid Helen and her neighbour, a woman who has lived her life to the full and thinks she might as well continue in her few remaining years. Add in a few neighbours, delivery men and visitors and you get the whole picture, of an eagerly insistent observer and a woman whose life was still open to friends, deliveries and neighbours during the national lockdown.
What is caring for your community? What is kindness? Did the Amazon man have it right when he said that Mrs D might die of loneliness before she died of Coronavirus?
Ellen Robertson’s brilliant tour-de-force performance and Mike Bartlett’s eye for seemingly inconsequential detail in the bigger picture make this a rivetting, funny, anxiously sad and thought-provoking evening. In the future, when all this is a distant memory, Mrs Delgado will be an important example of how we lived and thought in a defining moment of so many of our lives.