Mental health challenges are affecting an increasing number of us and yet the issue seems still to be taboo, not spoken about, which is why it’s so exciting to see bold young companies taking this issue head on and provoking discussion.
0 Days Without Crying, written and performed by Caterina Incisa and explores in touchingly beautiful detail the struggles of living with anxiety and depression.
We join Jess at the start of her journey to learn to love herself – well it’s either that or ‘fill her pockets with stones and jump into the Thames’ – be that through life modelling at art classes, sessions with a psychiatrist or group counselling. Since her mother died Jess has been plagued by intrusive thoughts, sometimes unable to speak to her friends, wishing herself ill and caught in a downward spiral of self-loathing and hopelessness. Her father’s attempts to help by sending her self-help books aren’t really helping so Jess proactively takes matters into her own hands to stave off the dark desire to end it all.
Although it deals with a very deep subject the script has a lightness of touch and Incisa’s performance draws her audience into her world with laughs galore, the funniest of moments often followed by a stark admission from the character that feels like a knife in the back for laughing, a very clever device used effectively throughout the piece without becoming obvious or wearisome.
Anna Marshall’s direction is perfectly paced and keeps the piece flowing, cleverly using light to isolate different areas of Jo Wright’s simple but effective bedroom set as Jess moves us through her stories. Wilfred Petherbridge’s sound design and musical composition was excellent, providing both a metaphorical and literal representation of Jess’s aggressive, intrusive thoughts.
Incisa introduces us to a variety of characters from her old uni friends to a rather inappropriate psychiatrist through her fantastic physical and vocal switches. Her timing is excellent throughout, she doesn’t shy away from the darker more emotional sections of the tale and she took her curtain call to a deservedly rapturous audience.
This is a hilarious yet scarily near to the knuckle account that hit close to home for this reviewer on a number of occasions.
The sound and light cues could have been executed a little quicker with occasional moments where the action seemed to pause until the sound started but this did not distract from the excellent work on display.