Mental illness is the topic of conversation in this double bill of short pieces, Delusion of Doubt, written by Anna Bennetts, and Les:( Miserable, written by Alex Manfrin. Both attempt to explore this territory through the device of personification; the writers have chosen to characterize two different debilitating mental disorders through representation.
Delusion of Doubt is a piece about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, in which a young man is taunted, teased and trained by an impish orange and green monster who makes him run back and forth in his room while reciting certain words, makes him flick his lamp off and on while counting to ten, and preventing him from leaving his apartment. He is then visited by a mental health professional, who attempts to assess his condition and finally provide him some relief.
The impish OCD monster is a cuter, less perverted, female version of Beetlejuice. Her bright costume and makeup are straight from children’s theatre, but she is a funny little thing, who communicates through grunts, growls and giggles, and performs quite a lot of acrobatics and physical comedy. The piece feels like it should be geared towards a younger audience; it’s heavily informative and expository, but nevertheless, it’s an enjoyable 25 minutes watching the little OCD monster do her work.
Les:( Miserable, written by and starring Alex Manfrin, along with Summer Williams (who appears in both pieces), delves into the world of depression. Manfrin, a comedy writer by trade, shares a room with his “black dog,” here represented by the tall blonde Williams, and the two argue about the nature of her presence in his life, how she affects his creativity and his social world. Williams continually interrupts his progress by reporting dire news of the world from a book she carries with her.
This is a highly self-referential work that proceeds based on the premise “write what you know.” Here that premise is taken literally, as Manfrin writes about trying to write, and then acts out what he’s written about writing. Perhaps the piece would have benefitted from bringing in someone else to play the writer, who could help to add a different perspective, expand the comedic potential, and inject some spontaneity.
The Never Mind the Monsters double bill administers its dose with a light snack of comedy to help the medicine go down, but never mind finding something more substantial than that.
Eggshell Stomp Productions and Bella Rose Productions in association with Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights presents
Never Mind the Monsters
Venue: The Blue Room Theatre | 53 James Street, Northbridge WA
Dates: 19 – 23rd February 2013
Tickets: $20 – $25
Part of Fringe World 2013