Love (Watching Madness)
- Katharine Gemmell
- 6 August 2019
Commendable take on growing up with a mentally ill parent
When the person who rules your world, the one who you love unconditionally, is going through an inner battle, how can you help them? Based on performer Izzy Kabban's own experience with her mother's bipolar disorder, SpeakUp Theatre's one-woman show investigates the complexity of growing up with a mentally ill parent.
Kabban addresses these traumas through personal vignettes from mother and daughter, as her mother struggles to cope with the instability of mental illness. Izzy traverses specific memories like when her mum erratically throws a trifle at her friend, or when she locks herself in her room to drink herself sick. The highs and the lows of bipolar are not just conveyed through dialogue, but also through intense intermittent drum and bass dance sequences, and a repetitive clutch of arms and claps of hands, which represent the cyclical bouts of mania.
Large clear containers on the stage, filled with water and notes, bring a sense of disconnect to the piece, with their purpose not being entirely clear. Moreover, although it is specifically an examination of a mother-daughter relationship, a few brief mentions of a dad and brother incite some confusion around the family dynamic and where they fit into the story.
Despite being slightly underdeveloped, the analysis of the impact of a mentally ill parent is a commendable aim. According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, growing up as a young person with a mentally ill parent has been found to have many effects on children in their care, with withdrawal, anxiety and a sense of shame among them. Statistically, with 68% of women and 57% of men with a mental illness being parents, society needs to talk louder about this issue.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 26 Aug (not 18), 11.35am, £10 (£8).