Fringe Online 2020
On a rounded stage overshadowed by an oval split screen that looks for all the world like a child’s tent the principal character arrives with her backpack. Projected onto the screen are the words of someone looking to tell their mother when they are coming back. The arrival achieved we then have the shadow join her. They then through dance, aerial theatre – silks, hoop – they give us a journey through artistic director, Debbie Robbins’, experiences of mental health with a final destination being the poetry of Jenny Lindsay. When Lindsay was given a mental health diagnosis, she was asked on a scale of 10 how she felt and the result is a piece of poetry that tells us. Before we get there, there is a duo performance that manages to show situations that are social and lonely in their environment but clear in the telling with projections and music that highlight the anxiety of being.
This has an exceptional beauty at its heart. The performance narrative, the shadow of depression and the influence it has over everything is combined in a multi layered performance of aerial theatre, beautifully pitched soundscape, the words of Lindsay, the direction of Cora Bisset and the skill of two performers.
The narrative manages to draw us into the piece and lets us understand how such pressure of conformity and experience have a profound effect through both the shadow and principal character. It manages to spring no surprises but still create intrigue and balance – in more than the aerial techniques – that allow us to consider and see what happens in each scenario.
The video projections add such a tremendous element to the piece and in particular I loved the simplicity of the coffee shop which was aided by the action in front of it managing to show the panic and the discomfort before we get the party, the looks then the frantic nature of some of the phrases hurled at people who just need to “sort themselves out”.
The use of silks in particular worked very well, and it was a treat to see them incorporated – they should be so much a part of theatre – into the piece. They gave a layer to the exploration that made it more visual and effective.
Whilst for some it may be a bold move or alternatively riding the crest of a wave to bring your own mental health struggles to an artistic piece, I felt this had more than that. The authenticity may be a given but much more was driven by the explorative nature of the text and its integration with the movement. It allowed you to see, hear and breathe the anxiety. This is a complex issue made light by some but here it was allowed to expand its universe not just into artwork but into the expressions and interaction between the shadow and its effect on our principal.
I found this to be beautiful and disturbing. It had the haunting score but also a haunting presence, not just with a shadow but asking me and us to look into ourselves with caution. And so, I did and whilst I have not suffered the types of anguish on I saw onstage and heard, I could see the dots that may need to have blocks placed between them before they are joined. Ending with Lindsay’s poetry was a fantastic choice to finish and having now bought This Script, I can enjoy more at my leisure. This is far from leisure but more pleasure to be derived from the arts as they explore and ask questions of all of our mental health.