Chris Born – Chris
Carolina Grierson – Laura
Saskia Burke – Alice
Ollie Tritton Wheeler – Ed
Directed by Joshua Silverlock.
Producer Liam Hugh
Mental illness of any form is very hard to deal with in the constraints of an 80-minute play without losing the essence of the subject. However, Jamie Murphy’s new play Bear uses his writing skills to have bought to stage the important issue of raising awareness of men suffering from mental illness and their difficulty in asking for help.
Chris Born who plays the main protagonist Chris morphs into his character with hard-hitting believability. From his slept in hair, stained jumper, unshaven image and non-commital unemotional mannerisms and as he struggles with day to day life. The grip that “Bear ” has on him is intense right .down to feeding it shreddies in the morning and full-blown one-sided conversations spiralling at times into an argument.
Cast above from the left Chris, Laura, Alice and Ed.
Meanwhile his extremely patient and understanding girlfriend Laura is dealing with the pressures of a new job and her concerns for her brother Ed’s mental health problems too. That and the fact her shreddies have all been eaten.
There are some very well scripted subtle comedy moments which are delivered tastefully in keeping with the storyline of the play.
The plays require the audience to watch every part in detail and concentrate throughout as much of the story is told through the actor’s exceptional body language and facial expressions.
The uncomfortable silences that have been well placed within the performance add another level to how mental illness can leave many people quiet and not knowing what to say. Simply “just cheer up” is not the answer to help someone suffering as Chris highlights during his dialogue in the play.
As we learn more about Chris and Alice’s childhood and the broken relationship with their manic depressive Mother it is difficult to ascertain whether Chris has taken on his depression from learned behaviour is at the root cause of his adulthood depression. As we also observe his sister Alice suffering from OCD in her rapid attempt to tidy the flat once she is left alone.
This multi-layered play must have been a challenge for all those involved as there is nothing light-hearted in here at all. An absolute credit to how sensitively they have addressed the very real social conditions of mental health and bought them to the stage to raise awareness.
CONTENT GUIDANCE: THEMES OF DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE.
By Spare Room Productions.
Katzspace, London Bridge.
February 24th-27th @ 3pm and 7.30pm tickets £13.50.
For all enquiries and submissions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 07554 487295
Find us in the basement of Katzenjammers!
Nearest Tube – London Bridge (Jubilee & Northern Line) Borough Market Exit.
Title picture was taken from the programme title page.
The last photo was taken by author Elaine Chapman.
Reviewed for http://www.londonpubtheatres.com/