BWW Review: A ROBOT IN HUMAN SKIN, The Vaults
Nicole Henriksen took Vault Festival by a quiet storm, tackling mental health, feminism, and stereotypes at once with A Robot In Human Skin.
Presenting herself already on stage, wielding a ukulele in her bra, pants, worn-out socks, and wearing a tin-foil tv screen as a helmet, she is honest and poweful as she walks the audience through her life.
The hour-long exploration of how she came to terms with anxiety and learnt how to deal with the illness is raw, poignant, and brave with a funny spirit. Henriksen takes the playful intro and transforms it into an explanation of what it took to realise she wasn't in top form, mental health-wise.
She externalises her thoughts and fears in a clever monologue, confiding in the crowd and explaining in small words what an anxious person feels every day. From grocery shop trips to having to call in sick at work because of the inability to move, she is outspoken about the stigma that surrounds mental health.
"I wanted what I had in my brain to come to the outside" Henriksen says, describing how crippling it is to fear that people wouldn't believe her or would belittle her state. She describes the tragic passing of her best friend when she was younger back in Australia - where she's from - with grief, admitting that it was what eventually helped her to seek treatment.
Art and the support of her friends come out as crucial for her survival. Anxiety is there, ready to bounce as soon as she lowers her defences, but a small circle of people and the joy of creating make it easier to cope. Henrinksen opens up in a naturally funny way, with depth and the awareness that art can make a change.