BWW Review: KICKED IN THE SH*TTER, The Hope Theatre
Her (Helen Budge) and Him (James Clay) - brother and sister with a difficulty upbringing - show what it means to live in a constant state of instability caused by depression and anxiety, in a place where everyone seems to be against them. It is through their eyes that Fleming's audience sees the overwhelming despair when everything becomes too much to handle, and the play becomes a potent, authentic depiction of mental illness told with sincerity and a no-nonsense attitude.
Clay's heart-wrenching speeches resonate clearly, offering a deep insight into what the world feels like in the head of the sufferer. Budge's initial brushing off of her brother's struggles as something too trivial compared to their tangible problems (money, their mother falling more and more ill, their lack of jobs) is sharp and honest.
Their performances are solid throughout the show, and when the tables turn and it's His turn to support Her, Clay's sensitivity matches Budge's vulnerability on a genuine and touching level.
Scott Le Crass's direction is subtle but strong and distinct, with smooth choreography during the set changes. Justin Williams and Jonny Rust's design is agile, with large rough cubes arranged by the actors to make tables, beds, and sofas. The decision to have a fairly dark and bare set keeps the atmosphere sombre and helps the audience visualise the characters' states of mind.
A significant play, which highlights the dangers and risks of invisible illnesses, which, if ignored, can have irreversible effects.
Photo credit: Ashley Carter.