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Review: Seeing the world through different eyes in 213 Things About Me, Battersea Arts Centre

...loaded with wit and humour, sharp observation and understanding.

213-web213 Things About Me started life as an art installation at Edinburgh Fringe and has evolved into a 60-minute monologue performed by Rosa Hoskins.

It is based on the life of Rose, a friend of the play's writer and director Richard Butchins who is a documentary filmmaker. 

When Rose was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, Richard asked her to write down five of her good traits. She drew up a list of 213 but later that same year she committed suicide.

Contrariness of human behaviour

In using Rose's own words and performing the piece as a monologue you not only get insight into how she sees the world but it also exposes the contrariness of human behaviour.

While Rose's way of seeing and interacting with the world might be different from what is perceived as the norm, her perspective makes you question that norm.

And, at times she is able to see what no one else around her can which allows her to be forgiving of less desirable behaviour when others perhaps cannot.

Rose's life is one of her own unique structure, her own set of rules by which to get by and survive. She is intelligent and focused - a savant - picking up languages, maths, musical instruments with ease and speed.

You begin to understand her frustrations and difficulties with society's more flexible rulebook and how scary and disconcerting that can make the most ordinary interactions.

'Inappropriately honest'

She uses Facebook to learn responses to situations she doesn't understand - before Facebook she describes herself as 'inappropriately honest'.

Despite knowing where her story ends this is a play in which her journey is surprisingly loaded with wit and humour, sharp observation and understanding.

Walking in Rose's shoes for just an hour you are forced to look at human interaction and question the honesty and purpose of those interactions.

You can see 213 About Me At Battersea Arts Centre until May 12.

Want to know more? Check out my Q&A with Richard Butchins on bringing the play to the stage.