Sh*t Happens


Produced by Patrycja Dynowska, Poland / UK, 15mins

Voila! Europe Festival, London | November 10-20, 2020

Nick Awde | THE X REPORT

Through the small Zoom window of my mobile, Patrycja Dynowska looks comfortable sitting on her loo. I sense it’s a safe space, surrounded by the books and other stuff that make her loo sojourns worth the while. She politely enquires how I feel about my own loo, which is where I’m also sitting. I think it’s okay – minus the books.

Comparing notes about passing time in the loo, Dynowska affably offers stories about pooing, encounters with poo, what makes us poo and what society thinks of it – or tries not to. She offers different devices to help me to randomly choose (pee-free) stories that gradually frame her own narrative, i.e. pooing is a defining feature of her life because she has IBP, inflammatory bowel disease, which means she doesn’t have the bowel control that others (such as me) may take for granted.

What with the perils of public loos, the explosive unpredictability of long intercity bus rides, the convoluted anatomy of disease, you do start to look at the world differently. Soon I was swapping stories on demand, my own pooing memories stirred into motion as Dynowska’s simple storytelling sifted my reactions to find common ground.

So, an informative guided conversation – a wonderfully welcome thing during lockdown – with an expert conversationalist I know I have at least one thing in common. How then does this one-to-one show go beyond arty dialogue?

Sh*t Happens has its subject matter going for it on the surface, but underneath there’s also the clever way it blends communication and issues, creating an interactivity where both sides are in control. Even if you feel you have little to say, you the audience are empowered because you know that Dynowska endearingly has enough to say on behalf of both parties if required – but only if required.

After all she’s saying it’s okay to share something both of you are experts on – and if she knows a bit more because of her condition, well you might too. You just don’t know until you’ve swapped an opinion or two – a dynamic that helps Dynowska create a narrative out of what you feed her, which takes its form and direction from the mood you jointly create.

Me? I’ve always seen the funny side of poo, so that’s how today’s show turned out. But I suspect each story can be taken in different ways depending on that mood the audience of one establishes: funny or serious, personal or trivial, medically obsessive or awkwardly taboo.

The genius I suppose is that the immediacy and intimacy comes from actually not being in the same space together. Conversely, I can also visualise this as a compelling group workshop (Dynowska has English and Polish versions) – for the seriousness of bowel disease or the sheer fun of poo.

• @shithappensldn