29.05.2017 – 20:00
People have described the experience of living with depression in many ways. A lot of the time it is compared to drowning in complete darkness. What makes it so difficult to understand still is that depression sits in a world of the individual’s mind. A world which Joshua Fancourt and Kieran Lane have made a mission to put on the main stage. Their two- man show MadMan takes the audience on a journey through the torturous depths of a man who is on the verge of losing it.
What strikes first about this piece of theatre is the sheer physicality of the performance. The idea of separating mind and person is not a new one in the world of theatre, but to see their energy draining as both characters fight creates the sense of losing one’s self to mental illness.
Along with the physical directing, the use of staging and lighting reinforced the all-encompassing nature of mental illness. The audience surrounded the stage which lay in almost candle lit darkness. It seemed as though the space was gradually draining of light.
A choice which I am always in conflict with is the use of film in theatre. I have seen it used successfully and not so. MadMan falls into the latter category. In this production in particular, the performance starting in one room before continuing in another created a sense of confusion as to whether to follow the actors. Thus the film became little more than a time filler, with short flashes of images both connected and unconnected to the performance.
MadMan is a very flexible portrayal of a subject still on the fringes of popular performances. Personally, I hope to see more performances of what you could call a mental portrait.
**** Four Stars