REVIEW: Mood Kill at The Lion and Unicorn Theatre @camdenfringe

Snippet Theatre‘s new show Mood Kill opens by getting straight to the point. Explained in an opening recording, writer Olivia Wilkes wants to know why suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK today and why aren’t we all doing more to address it?

Told through the real life testimonies taken in over 50 hours of interviews with people suffering from depression, the show has trimmed this down to one hour of selected transcripts, staged through headphone verbatim (actors listening to real life interviews on headphones and performing them).

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The performances are particularly dazzling with this in mind, the cast of six (four men, two women) deliver heartbreaking recordings from men and women who have dealt with mental health issues themselves or experienced a loved one going through them, showcasing impressive range without the recordings causing a moment’s hesitation or pause. Despite racing through a number of different characters, the performer’s embodiment of them made every person recognisable, empathetic and relatable.

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The physicality, direction and use of space in the piece helps to bring the recordings to life, from jittery explorations of addiction to whirling lights, there’s a darkness that underlines each story, excellently capturing the interviewees’ constant battle against it. Leaving no stone unturned, issues of race, gender discrimination and our current government’s failures to address mental health, Mood Kill offers illuminating insights into how we’re getting it wrong, and how we could get it right.

My only point of contention (and it is a very minor one) was the retrospective nature of many of the testimonies, I felt myself wanting to see men dealing with these issues in the present (rather than looking at how they’d come through them) and how this might look or feel, in all of its diversity. This doesn’t stop Mood Kill from being an incredibly important, devastating and breathtaking piece of work. Critical viewing about a critical issue that needs to be better addressed, today.

Review by Natalie Beech

Mood Kill
The Lion and Unicorn Theatre
13 – 18 August
https://camdenfringe.com/show.php?acts_id=2019

 

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1 Response to REVIEW: Mood Kill at The Lion and Unicorn Theatre @camdenfringe

  1. Jack Carlisle says:

    I don’t usually comment on performances, though I feel compelled to say that they completely missed the mark on this one. An important issue such as mental health should stroke upon the heartstrings of everyone and anyone. I went into the show nervously excited, for I thought that they would focus in on the brutal nature of such a vicious affliction, showcasing the true core of the unspoken. Instead what I got was a surface-level misrepresentation, accompanied by a virtue-signalling attitude from the producer(s)/director, whom clearly thought that mentioning the words “depression” and “anxiety” was enough to earn them altruistic praise.

    I loved the acting skills of the big man (couldn’t find his name) and the rest of the cast can clearly hold their own, though the audience needed to saturate more in the pain that each person was going through. The blanket scene, where big man is twinging and toiling over his excruciating mental state was one of the better moments, though even that could’ve had more screaming and derangement. In order to expose the chaotic nature of mental health, you really need to go into the belly of the beast.

    Some will say that you can’t criticise those who are brave enough to speak openly about their issues, which is true insofar as they do speak openly, which still isn’t the case. That’s why the verbatim concept was great in theory, though poor in the final outcome. Most people can’t even properly articulate their own suffering, let alone allow someone else in to articulate it for them. I say this not in order to belittle those who do speak out, as this is what allows us to make progress against the thing, though it purely means that you could never capture the essence of suffering verbatim…it cannot be purely verbalised…

    I left the play not only disappointed, but angry that they had taken on an important issue and muddled it into something with a happy ending, which is seldom the case. I understand that they wanted to provide hope for potential audience members, who are undoubtably going through their own shit; however we can’t battle something unseen without making it felt so deeply that action is the only option available…

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