It’s an eerie yet comforting sensation to feel as though you’re listening to an audible mirror of your dating life—even if the levels of dramatic flair skim the heights of pantomime. It’s this attention to relatable detail that makes Katie Bonna’s The Entertainment so intoxicating, continuing to draw you in with glimmers of self-deprecation and nuggets of comedic punchlines. In essence we’re told the story of Anna, living halfway between the reality of her deflating job at a children’s party service, and the fantasy of mental escapism in the form of a fictional ‘perfect girlfriend’. The audio play toys with the fine line of unhealthy make-believe, questioning what happens when our idea of someone else is a better alternative to their true self.
Bonna makes it clear from the outset that we’re not dealing with a Fringe rookie. From start to end, the finished product is of the highest quality, peppered with snippets of delicious narrative flow. The writing is cleverly structured to hit all the right notes while appealing to audio newbies, accentuated by the impeccable sound design and accents of additional soundtrack. Anna draws us into her world while insecure and erratic, and we never lose that touch. Her daily alarms rip through us like we’re also waking up with daily dread, her thought process echoes many of our lived experiences and faux pas. The sapphic touches aren’t lost on us either—the terribly clumsy lesbian flirting and alarmingly quick mental attachments are almost too painfully true to life. While we hear Anna eventually find validation in being ‘seen’, the vulnerable sharpness of flipping between endearing comedic romps and dark psychotic turns make her personal journey all the more rewarding.
Granted, there’s arguably a few niggly details that keep The Entertainment from being life-changing listening. The narrative loses slight momentum in certain places. Anna’s overbearing boss is perhaps a little too caricature. None of these things matter enough to detract from Bonna’s incredibly astute use of narrative devices. There’s a fountain of quotable lines. Explicitly visceral imagery. Continued thoughtfulness and power in addressing the audience directly. The real standout is Anna’s fantasy world fed through her headphones, something we’re actively encouraged to participate in. These are moments that hark back to our collectively shared late night heartbreaks, nursing ourselves better with the idea of a favourable alternative in our mind’s eye.
The Entertainment is somehow scarily accurate, but just far-fetched enough to be considered a world away—all a testament to the sheer talent of Bonna’s multi-faceted craft.
Words by Jasmine Valentine.
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