BWW Review: DIGGING DEEP, VAULT Festival
Presented by Just Add Milk as part of Let's Talk @ VAULT Festival - a collaboration with Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust to start a conversation about death and grief - Digging Deep follows 22-year-old Mossy (Kyle Rowe) as he fundraises for his own funeral.
After coming to the realisation that he doesn't want to live anymore but gutted by the guilt of leaving his mum to pay for the expenses of his funeral, he decides to set up an online campaign with the aid of his three friends Kane (Matthew Woodhead), Jack (Josh Sinclair-Evans), and Matt (Jonny Green). Initially shocked by his decision and unwilling to understand him to a certain degree, they do their best to help him out.
Writer Amy Guyler tackles the rising numbers of suicide among young men with an agile script that features plenty of tongue-in-cheek attitude to lighten the somber content. Combined with Alistair Wilkinson's poignant direction, the play is a harrowing window into the effects of depression.
Through showing different ways to deal with suicide set in a working class environment, Guyler starts a complex exploration of millennial male friendship and establishes believable patterns through her script.
Mossy's news have a shattering impact on his mates: Matt and Jack become overnight entrepreneurs setting up sponsorships and spreading the word, hoping to change his mind, while Kane, Mossy's childhood and closest friend, is devastated and unable to process his choice.
The actors share a delicate and well-balanced chemistry, they're unafraid to show the cracks in their characters' masculinity and give touching and sophisticated performances. Among them, Sinclair-Evans is heartbreaking in his portrayal as he gently nudges at a future where Mossy is still with them only to be dragged back to reality.
With opposite approaches to Mossy's intentions, Green and Woodhead delve into male bonds and introduce a broader discussion on personal relationships. Wilkinson heightens the exchanges between the main character's internal monologue and what happens around him, creating an atmosphere that turns increasingly bitter and personal with Joe Thomas' lighting design.
As the inevitable grows more threatening, the importance of asking for help and being there for those affected by the issue becomes the core of the piece. Digging Deep manages to highlight not only the suicidal struggle but also the grief faced by those who remain behind, focusing on how difficult it still is for men to break the stigma and open up.
If you are affected by any of the issues Mossy deals with, here are some of the helplines suggested by Just Add Milk:
Samaritans: call 116 123 or email email@example.com
Papyrus (for people under 35): call 0800 068 41 41 or text 07786 209697
Campaign Against Living Miserably (specifically for men): call 0800 58 58 58 from 5pm to midnight