Confessions of a Personal Trainer

Fri 4th – Sat 26th August 2017

reviews

Charlotte Lock

at 09:53 on 5th Aug 2017

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In Katie Kopajtic’s one woman show, we bear witness to the struggles of a young actress who moved to New York and whose life has taken her somewhere unplanned and unexpected. We see through her eyes her journey towards becoming a personal trainer whilst continually pledging to quit.

Performing alone, Kopajtic does well in her portrayal of her different clients, each amusing and outrageous, even mocking her own attempt at an Irish accent. These characters prove to be distinctly irksome and humorous to her, while a few manage to tug at the heartstrings. It seems that it is these relationships which are central to the performance, helping to provide inspiration and even financially supporting Kopajtic’s production. Her portrayal undoubtedly leaves the audience wanting to meet these exasperating yet entertaining characters, whom for her seem to be the reason she cannot leave her trade. But this was somewhat confusing due to an apparent love-hate relationship. This perhaps requires greater distinction, as does the transitions between different characters, yet overall each new character that was introduced was then successfully developed, enabling the audience's insight into Kopajtic’s own life.

The show was effective in its simple nature - Kopajtic alone on stage, with just a chair and some fitness gear and basic changes between flood and spotlights symbolising the changes between the broken fourth wall in the modern day, and experiences with other members of the gym. Whilst there were some issues with spotlighting being suitably located, the uncomplicated setting and lighting establish intimacy with the audience. The fourth wall was repeatedly broken, with audience participation reaching a new level as Kopajtic led warm-up stretches, but not to worry, the gym session was relaxed and entertaining!

The production did seem to have an abrupt close, perhaps lacking a logical conclusion, although, with it being a real-life account, this may have been intentional. After all, being left wanting more is surely a good thing? However, the production would have benefited from a more obvious lesson or moral to be derived from it.

Whilst there were many amusing moments in the performance, there were some mixed messages as seen in Kopajtic’s desire to quit her job and portrayals of numerous irritating characters, whilst also displaying a clear attachment to them. Whilst the show had value, especially in Kopajtic’s ability to easily capture the attention of the audience, the true thoughts of Kopajtic may have unfortunately been missed. Ultimately, however, it cannot be denied that the degree of sharing in the piece is to be appreciated, requiring a great deal of bravery. The show overall was well performed, but the production leaves the viewer wanting something more.

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Kathryn Tann

at 10:05 on 5th Aug 2017

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'Confessions of a Personal Trainer', created and performed entirely by Katie Kopajtic, discusses her job at a ‘luxury’ fitness club in New York. It is a casual, truthful account which feels informal in a way which puts Katie’s own magnetic personality at the forefront.

Having always thought that warming up before a show was an activity for the performers, it was a small surprise to be asked to get up at the start and stretch. For many actors this could have been a sure-fire way to turn their comfortably seated audience against them, but Katie Kopajtic’s charmingly cynical sense of humour and familiar demeanour meant there were no hard feelings. The tone was set, the atmosphere relaxed, and all we really had to do was wave our arms around a little. It seemed that this was to be a one-woman show where intimacy didn’t have to be awkward.

As Katie’s pre-show conversation merged smoothly into script, it became apparent that she was at her best when speaking as herself. The various characters and clients she impersonated did bring this far-off luxury fitness club of Manhattan to life, but some were undoubtedly more successful than others. Bouts of laughter would occasionally erupt from the audience, but much of the humour was somewhat ‘American’ in its style. Characters such as the high-heeled membership manager could often seem a little clichéd in their stereotypes, just as certain moments could feel flat in their comedic effect, though they had the potential to do more.

There was nothing challenging or radical about this show. Light-hearted and easy to enjoy, the ‘plot’ (in the loosest sense of the word) took us through the ups and downs of Katie’s ‘unplanned’ career as a personal trainer. However, they failed to demonstrate what it was the aspiring actress really wanted to say about her job. Mixed signals were given throughout the piece, beginning with the slightly odd claim (which I was sort of expecting to be expanded later on) that although Katie wanted to leave the fitness club she works at, she also thought of her clients as children she couldn’t bring herself to abandon. The result was a confusion as to what our (or her) opinion of personal training should be; a confusion which concluded quite unsatisfactorily in the form of an abrupt end to the performance.

On the other hand, Katie Kopajtic may well have titled her piece ‘Confessions of a Personal Trainer’ with the intention of it being just that: a series of truthful accounts surrounding her bittersweet relationship with her job. For me, one of the absolute highlights of the performance was the story of the dancer, bringing both the funniest and the most poignant moments of the show. It occurs to me that Katie’s show was not about personal training, but about the people she came across. And whilst it may not be particularly compelling, or even remotely thrilling, the chatty, comfy, forty-five minutes we spent with Katie Kopajtic was charming in its sincerity.

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