Deviser: Louise White
Reviewer: Hannah Powell
At first glance, Debris appears to be a comedic interpretation of someone’s journey through depression, but as the show progresses it becomes much more than just that. It attacks the root of depressions through the first-hand experiences of the creator, Louise White. One might suspect that it might make a mockery of mental illness without meaning to; however, the show manages to provide the respect and attention mental health deserves.
The performance takes the audience to Falmouth in 2013, when White was working at a local hotel. It centres around the progression of her depression and the roots from which it spread, mainly her boyfriend at that time and her dead-end job. In a Q&A afterward, White stated that the show was a very cathartic experience for her: it gave her the chance to relive certain things from her past she hadn’t before, and that as time passes the show adapts and changes as specific things begin to no stop affecting her. This effect is quite clear in the way she takes her time to explain each period of her depression, the causes and the results. It creates a very personal and touching performance in which everyone can find something to relate to, even if one has not experienced depression.
The set is quite simple, organising boxes stacked up on top of each other with labels including “Distractions”, “Paranoia”, “Love”. Each story is a new box with new props such as balloons, dolls, and puppets ingeniously used to aid in the telling of the stories. The idea of the balloons, in particular, must be commended as they are used effectively to represent how difficult it was for her to go through daily life, and how easily things can just get in the way.
Ben Howard’s music provides the soundtrack to the piece, with each song fitting the moment almost perfectly. However, sometimes the music is a little too loud within the small space, making it hard to hear everything. White makes use of recordings of her own voice to symbolise her inner voices which constantly question everything she does right down to her buttering of her toast in the morning. Although this is a little disjointing and awkward at times, with some development and experimentation, it could be used quite effectively.
Overall the piece is good – a good representation of one person’s battle with depression that doesn’t label everyone’s battle in the same light. It recognises that each person’s journey is different and therefore should be treated differently. With more development, this could be an excellent way of demonstrating to people how something so small can start a catalyst for something much bigger, and how we handle the small things in life will determine how we cope with much bigger things.
Reviewed on 3 February 2017 | Image: Contributed