This seems to be the year of mental-health-related shows at the Fringe – and seeing as 1 in 4 adults will go through an episode of mental illness during their lives, it's great to be finding the time to talk about these issues. Effective Drum Productions adds to the discussion with this solo show about a man’s struggle with depression.
Actor Bruce Turnbull plays a middle-aged man who has a history of depression, and the play opens with him contemplating suicide. He has spent his entire life living as society demands him to live – go to university, get a job, get married, keep working, move up the ladder, retire.
Turnbull successfully brings out the drab monotony of this existence, devoid of any inner motivation. There are outbursts of anger at being unnoticed; but the slow tragic loss of hope, and the silent pleas for help that go unheard, are the main themes running along the length of the production. Turnbull is a fine actor, and he displays an entire gamut of emotions with finesse.
The script, however, is a bit flat. It has set itself up for monotony, and the end result is – nothing happens. There is no character progression; yes, there’s the odd revelation and outburst, but it isn’t impactful enough. I started to feel less like a member of the audience, and more like the protagonist’s therapist, listening sympathetically as he drones on and on about how his life has been meaningless.
Unlike some of other plays tackling mental health this year, this production lacks the thrust to make it a talking point. While Turnbull offers a good performance, if you have seen a lot on the same topic this year, this one won't add much to the dialogue.