Dir. Tid, Tron Theatre, 9-12 May
Winning the first Mental Health award at the Fringe 2017, my expectations when going in to see Mental were quite high. Unfortunately, they were not met.
The semi-autobiographical performance showed Kane Power, whose mother has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder for the last 21 years, and his experience with being close to someone with this particular mental health issue. The piece was informative, containing verbatim notes from his mother’s medical records, with voice notes and recordings of how she felt at certain times during her manic episodes, along with personal stories of young Kane being confronted with these instances.
Beginning the show telling the audience that he is going to speak about his mother’s condition using stories and music, Kane does just that and by the end of the performance he has created a song which is meant to be akin to what having the mind of someone with bipolar is. However, I felt that this fell short.
Whilst I cannot deny that I walked out of the play feeling more informed about the disorder, I felt more disappointed by the lack of empathy showed by Kane.
Throughout the performance he repeatedly said that he was fine and detached from the situation as during his mother’s manic episodes she often called him vicious words over the phone, and so he felt he needed to be detached from this in order to perform the show.
For me, however, whilst I respected the detachment and how hard this situation must have been for him, his lack of empathy with the story made it seem almost fake. The performer could have been merely an actor who received a script, learned the lines, and attempted to fake cry on stage, rather than Kane himself who was telling the story of someone close to him.