Preview: Jellyfish

This article is from 2016

Interview: Intrepid Ensemble – ‘a child’s eye view of depression’

Energetic theatre company explains how their new show Jellyfish tackles the stigma of depression head on

A six-foot jellyfish stretches out its tentacles to touch a young boy and his family as it dances and glides around the stage. The puppet turns out to be an unwelcome guest in the home of a children's book writer and his son.

The jellyfish is 'a metaphor for depression', explains Matthew Woodford, founder of Intrepid Ensemble, which has created the show for 7- to 11-year-olds. As the creature moves about the stage, invading and altering people's lives against their will, it is accompanied by other-worldly music written by Scottish composer Finn Anderson.

The puppet is controlled by young actors whose energy on stage is a welcome contrast with the lassitude that so often accompanies depression. The show's message is upbeat, despite the acknowledgement of how much damage depression can do.

'It's something you can learn to accept,' says Woodford. 'The show is a child's eye view of the subject that seeks to tackle the lack of understanding that so often accompanies depression.'

The show aims to look at depression head-on, with the courage needed to bust through taboos. 'The stigma around mental illness can make it difficult to discuss, understand or accept,' says Woodford, 'even when it's a close family member suffering from it – but you shouldn't be afraid of it.'

Pleasance Courtyard, 6–29 August (not 15), 11.45am, £7--£9 (£6--£8.50). Previews 3–5 Aug, £6.


  • 3 stars

Intrepid Ensemble A beautiful and entrancing portrait of the bond between a father, a son and a jellyfish. Young Tom lives by a lighthouse with his mother and father. After a difficult year, it soon becomes clear that they're sharing their home with a stranger: a gigantic glowing jellyfish. Can the family learn to live…