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).
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.
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
The Lion and Unicorn Theatre
13 – 18 August