REVIEW: I Don't Know What I'm Supposed To Be Doing

Emma Decent inspired audiences with her tale of bereavement. (s)
Emma Decent inspired audiences with her tale of bereavement. (s)

Burnley Literary Festival opened up another chapter of enchantment last weekend with a poignant tale of love and loss.

Performed at Burnley Central Library, I Don’t Know What I’m Supposed To Be Doing is an autobiographical production written and performed by actress Emma Decent.

It follows her life from birth to present, charting her difficult relationship with her mother, whose subsequent struggles with dementia changed both women’s lives forever.

Emma beautifully pieced together snapshots of her life using story-telling, photographic slideshows, music and piles of personal mementos. It was impossible not to be moved by this intimate style.

And the fact the actress’ mother was born in Lancashire and died in residential care in Burnley made for all the more a touching production.

But it was also Emma’s warmth, gentle humour and down-to-earth charm which drew audiences deeply into her world and allowed us to subsequently experience some of her pain. It was cathartic, not just for Emma, but for anyone who has ever loved and lost, or felt the devastating impact of dementia.

Perhaps most lovely was the tender way in which she presented her relationship with her mother.

While she was honest about the most difficult times, her play was ultimately uplifting, celebrating and immortalising her mother’s legacy.

Telling a wonderful balance of funny, inspiring and poignant family stories, she presented their relationship like a book of pressed flowers: for while dementia, addiction and unfulfilled dreams had flattened and dried it out, it was also coloured with charm and a remarkable vibrancy.

To find out more about the actress and check out her other projects, please visit