Women’s mental health: a subject finally being taken seriously, rather than dismissed as ‘hormones’ or ‘hysteria’. Rachel Harper’s new monologue explores aspects of the female psyche that will resonate with many.
Based on a story told to Harper about a woman’s struggle with post-natal depression, Harper takes us on a journey through Em’s life through her conversation with a baby at a train platform – opening with strobe lights, instantly depicting Em’s mania.
Em has suffered childhood abuse and is currently within an unsatisfying marriage, causing her to strive to survive. Survival becomes key theme of the piece, as Em talks about babies showcasing emotion, and her friend Lucy Bishop’s ferret eating its own babies, as forms of self preservation. Harper’s writing shines in these moments, as she steers us further into Em’s current fight or flight dilemma.
Harper is admirable in the role of Em, clearly wanting to honour the reality this women faced. With the subject matters of post-natal depression and abuse at the heart of this production, she clearly has a valid point to make; but this can feel unclear due to the plethora of issues being addressed. Luckily, her comedic timing, witty sketches and quips, (such as Em describing her husband as the ‘Nokia 3210 of blokes’), help to redeem this and bring momentum back to the piece.
A solid character study: Harper is one to watch in the future, but slight refinements are needed to not convolute the important issues explored.
An honourable mention must go to the stellar all female creative team of Missmanaged Theatre, the company behind the production. Details of charities to contact are provided, free professional child care is offered for the Sunday matinees, and there are other ticket options such as Wage Gap Wednesday discounts and performance times to suit Front Of House theatre staff.