It all starts and ends with a eulogy.
Amy Guyler’s Digging Deep confidently approaches the subject of death from the beginning as young, working class lad, Mossy (Kyle Rowe) decides that he wants to end his own life. Rowe guides and narrates with ease, talking candidly about his plans – even making the audience laugh. He gradually draws his friends into the narrative: Kane (Matthew Woodhead), Jack (Josh Sinclair-Evans) and Matt (Jonny Green).
The play begins with the four young men sitting apart, amongst the audience – a clever directorial decision by Alistair Wilkinson, showing the physical and emotional disconnect many young men have with each other. They discuss holiday destinations and Matt’s non-stop girlfriend-wittering while they play video games. Meanwhile, Mossy’s pleas of “I don’t want to be here anymore” fall on deaf ears, but are played to comic effect as Kane retorts: “Well go home then!”. Through humour, the play cleverly highlights our lack of awareness.
So often we see the female narrative around depression – Milly Thomas’ Dust being a prime example. However, seeing the male perspective brings a fresh look into their internal struggle. From the off, we see Mossy’s friends reluctantly agree to help him fund raise his funeral to remove the burden from his mum. Each friend reacts differently; with Kane taking the confused, “tough love” stance, Matt taking the compassionate and concerned route, while Jack remains constantly distracted, focusing on the task at hand.
We are taken through a roller-coaster of highs and lows, as their fundraiser picks up the pace – we laugh as they film a video of them chopping 600 onions and offering a 10% discount code: “dead man” for Mossy’s final send-off rave.
Ultimately, their friendships are believable, relatable and endearing – it’s what glues the play together. Woodhead effortlessly portrays Kane’s inner struggle, occasionally acting out in frustration at Mossy’s steadfast certainty. Meanwhile, Green brings a softer, more emotional touch to Matt, which is a startlingly beautiful contrast. Through them, we see true male friendships held up to a microscope, and these actors portray this with ease through Guyler’s natural style.
Digging Deep educates through feeling, laughter and honesty as it makes you think twice about male relationships with their feelings and death.
This production supports Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) and will be at The Vaults until 24 February – make sure you catch it before it closes!