DramaNorth WestReview

Mental – HOME, Manchester

Writer: Kim Power, Kane Power, Alice Lamb and Tid

Director: Tid

Reviewer: Jo Beggs

Kim is Kane’s mum. Kim is bi-polar. Kane’s lived with it all his life – the unexpected reactions, the accusatory voice-mails, the fear that his friends will be freaked out. Kim has been in and out of hospital,on a long list of medication. She’s had days when she’s been keeping the world turning, days in conversation with her dead sister, days when the pills switch everything off and leave her isolated and lonely.

But Kim and Kane are two very resilient individuals – eloquent and thoughtful and prepared to share this very raw and personal story with anyone who cares to listen. One in four of us will suffer poor mental health in our lifetime, and we’re really not very good at talking about it. Mental is all about getting people talking.

What makes Mental an affecting and important piece of theatre is the lack of ego that Kane brings to his mum’s story. This is not about him, as it could so easily have been. Kane performs with a brilliantly calm and measured tone, telling his compelling story through spoken word, live looped music and simple but effective staging, all brought together seamlessly in Tid’s appropriately light-touch Direction. Surrounded by boxes full of medical notes, against the backdrop of a neon graph depicting normal and manic moods (design by Ruby Spencer Pugh), and lit dramatically by Ina Berggren, Kane dishes out a huge amount of facts, thoughts and conclusions about bi-polar disorder and the way it’s been part of Kim’s life. You come away having learned a great deal, and with a hugely positive sense of how personal strength and human relationships can endure the toughest of times.

The looped electronic musical elements of the show create multiple layers of sound – from a calm backdrop to Kane’s lyrical narrative to a cacophony of voices that reflect some of the hellish confusion that probably goes on in Kim’s head. One section of Kane’s story is a quick-fire assault of medical terminology, and the names of drugs that are so foreign to the ear when it’s not a part of your world. It has a delightfully poetic quality.

Some will find the issues that Mental is dealing with challenging, but what could be a difficult hour of issue-based theatre somehow manages to be an ultimately uplifting and positive celebration of human spirit, addressing important issues head-on without a hint of the worthy. That’s not an easy thing to do, but Kane Power Theatre have totally nailed it.

Runs until 24 January 2018 | Image: Contributed

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