Review – Shattered

August 19, 2013 | By More

✭✭✭✩✩  Effective verbatim performances

Café Camino (Venue 65)
3-24 August 2013
Review by Mark Bolsover

Chimaera Productions presents an accomplished abstract piece of verbatim theatre, combining simple yet on the whole effective physical performance with material taken directly from the shattering the stigma blog: an online space and resource for anyone dealing with mental health issues.

The piece is staged in the large, open space attached to Café Camino and the company makes particularly effective use of it. The broad area framed as a stage is transformed very simply into a pseudo-black box  through the use of drapes. The seven actors are starkly and atmospherically lit by a single light to stage right for the duration.

Shattered. Pic: Gary Quinn

The choreography of the physical elements of the piece is also very simple.

The performers take it in turns to take centre stage, delivering a series of monologue vignettes taken from the blog. The physical elements take the form of an echoing in mime and gesticulation of elements of these monologues. At times this repetition is slightly crude and jarring, but on the whole it works well in helping to establish the stark, angry and alienating tone of the piece.

The portrayal of the conditions highlighted is a fraught and complex affair and what is most impressive here is the maturity of the performances from the piece’s young cast.

Rebecca Hale’s angry, bitter, confusion in the ‘I hate myself’ and ‘The conversation’ vignettes is particularly effective. Katie Mitchell gives a sensitive performance as the mother suffering with postnatal depression after the birth of her autistic child, while Robert Haas, Jamie Stokes, Rachel Wheeler and Sarah Masson all give solid and sensitive performances, which show good promise.

The piece’s central message is that the social stigmas surrounding depression need to be dissolved and that, given its hormonal, chemical and medical roots, depression ought to ranked and treated socially with any other form of physical (or non-mental) illness.

There is perhaps a tacit assumption at work here that those ranged in the piece’s audience still hold the social prejudices it seeks to dismantle but,  as director Ash Pryce explains to the audience, the angry and somewhat patronising tone stems from its nature as verbatim theatre. These are the words and pleas of people dealing with depression.

Shattered is a solid, sensitive and well staged piece, helping to extend the remit of the work of ‘shattering the stigma’.

Running time: 1hr
Run ends Sat 24 August 2013
Daily (not Tues) 7.30pm.
Venue 65. Café Camino, 1 Little King Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3JR
Free Entry, Donate On Exit event (not ticketed)
Details on www.edfringe.com
Chimaera productions website: www.chimaeraproductions.co.uk
The Shattering the Stigma blog is at: shatteringthestigma.wordpress.com

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