Richard Gadd: Monkey See Monkey Do
A potent and personal hour that is compelling and brave
This article is from 2016.
If feminism was the major theme for comedians at recent Fringes, the floodgates have truly opened for 2016 to be the year of mental health. It feels as though it would be easier to find shows where depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts are not tackled: and this willingness to discuss some dark areas is, undoubtedly, a positive thing.
For Richard Gadd's Monkey See Monkey Do, an appalling incident that he had buried deep inside is now being dredged up for release on stage in this wonderful multimedia hour that is part comedy, part theatre and full-on therapy. His analyst does indeed make an appearance with both patient and doctor as upside-down painted chins, while Gadd plays out his internal dramas by running on a treadmill for the vast majority of the show. Seasoned Fringe-watchers might think of Kim Noble due to his previous fitness-inducing antics in painfully confessional work, as will the repeated footage of Gadd throwing up (still, at least he's aware of the link, having referred to himself in last year's triumphant Waiting for Gaddot as 'the shit Kim Noble').
Gadd's early publicity shots featured 'blood' on his clothes or on a baseball bat, but in this new set, the wounds he's opened up are less visually apparent but run much further into his psyche as he wrestles with his own maleness. Turning to running because of a typically insensitive tweet about depression from Katie Hopkins, he's training (with pink accessorises) for the Man's Man Final in Mansfield (hosted by Jason Manford) all the while on the run from his internal 'monkey' who seeks to hijack him in every social situation.
This potent hour is compelling and, yes, courageous. Whether it helps Richard Gadd ease his personal trauma is one thing, but it should certainly get him in peak physical shape by the time his August run is over.
Banshee Labyrinth, until 28 Aug, 9.45pm, free.