Josh lives in his parents' attic, watching people going past, looking at the garden and wishing he could leave. His sister Sam is travelling the world; she sends postcards, hoping to give him a reason to follow her. His Dad gives him the travel section to look at, his Mum tries encourage him down for dinner… and they all worry about his future.
Through physical theatre, snippets of conversations, photographic flashbacks and postcards we learn more about Josh's past and his relationships with those near to him. We see his struggle with mental illness and the resulting tensions in the family, as they try to help but worry they are making things worse.
This show uses physical theatre brilliantly, visualising the inexplicable aspects of mental illness: the dead weight and the net holding him back. It evokes not just the struggles of the person with the illness, but the rest of the family as they wrestle with the frustration of not being able to help. I liked that no explanation was ever given about the details of his condition, or what was stopping him leaving his room; I felt by not trying to give a reason for his sadness or fear, the piece better represented the complexity of mental illness, and the fact that when problems are all in the mind it is so much harder to do anything practical about them.
The staging is very well thought-through; action is presented to each side, and works well with the structural pillars. The movable lamps are particularly effective, marking clearly whose inner thoughts we are hearing or which photograph is being reminisced over. The flow of movement and dialogue between the actors and across the stage is also well done, although at times it was quite difficult to hear what characters (especially the Dad) were saying.
On the day I went there had been a cast change, but I would not have guessed if they hadn't mentioned it – the show was so smoothly done. This is a slick and thoughtful piece, using the performers' skill and the medium of physical theatre to highlight an issue that will affect as many as one in three people in their lifetimes.