Artist(s): Tanya Moodie for Clean Break
Writers: Chino Odimba, Theresa Ikoko, Ursula Rani Sarma, Deborah Bruce, Laura Lomas
Director: Roisin McBrinn
Venue: The Little House
Reviewer: Glen Pearce
Mental Health provision is a hot topic at the moment. While the various service providers are placed under the microscope there’s often a forgotten group. Like a stone thrown into the Latitude Festival lake, the impact of Mental Health ripples out, impacting a raft of family, friends and health care professionals.
It’s those ripples that Clean Break explore in Joanne, a hard-hitting yet human look at the aftermath of Joanne’s mental health issues. We get to know the issues Joanne faces, her demons and her drivers but we never actually meet her in person. Instead we are introduced to five characters who all share a common thread, a friendship or passing encounter with Joanne.
There’s her social worker, doing her best to offer her support to the recently released from prison, Joanne. There’s the hostel chief executive – more concerned with budget spreadsheets and brand reputation than with genuine care; the former school bully, now reformed and a police officer haunted by the torment of her former actions. We also hear the distressing testimony from an overworked and stressed hospital receptionist and finally Beck, Joanne’s schoolday friend.
All five women have overlapping tales of Joanne’s downward spiral, all impacting on her decline or unable to provide the level of support she ultimately requires. It’s only as we flit between the quintet we get the full picture of the young woman’s traumatic life.
All five women are played by Tanya Moodie, who delivers a performance of subtle shading but packed with emotion. Each woman Moodieembodies is carefully drawn and distinct, each sharing their own fears and dreams alongside those of the unseen titular character. Roisin McBrinn’s direction paces the piece well, slowly revealing details but holding attention throughout.
What is remarkable here is that the five character are the work of five separate authors but they are brought together with a unity that resonates with a single voice.
Latitude’s Little House theatre may already be something of an oven on a sweltering Suffolk Sunday afternoon, but the heat and passion of the writing and performance in Joanne raises the temperature even higher. A timely, thought-provoking yet human look at the widening ripples of mental health in our community and the dangers of ignorance.