A two-man show, no props, nothing fancy, but a whole lot of laughs. There is such a thing as the power of humour. Done right, it's possible to convey a strong message more effectively through humour than fact-churning speeches. This play does that perfectly.
The premise of the show explores experiences of mental health and the ways it is managed. The play follows two friends, one of which, Dillon, is suffering with mental health issues while his friend Oliver, tries to support him.
As Oliver tries to help Dillon, the duo mock the self-help advice that is regurgitated by medical professionals; they take the audience through series of scenes in which the comedians explore various self-help methods from therapy sessions to eating right and exercising. The two comedians make meaningful points about mental health and the importance of friendship, whilst delivering side-splitting comedy. Oliver’s hilariously poor attempts to help his friend are counteracted by Dillon’s bleak and morbid- but outrageously funny- premonitions about life. These two comedians approached the subject of mental health head-on without dancing around the issue: it was not watered down and for this reason the message was powerful and clear.
This comedic pair, called Two Surnames, made it quite obvious that they were in no need of props or a stage to execute their show. Taking place in the Black Box venue at the Warren, the simplicity of the set allowed the actors to put their performances front and foremost with no distractions. The use of lighting and voiceovers were cleverly employed to differentiate between the narrative techniques of flashbacks, interior monologues and mini-sketches.
There were audible belly-aching laughs erupting from the audience as this double-act used dark humour, perfectly-timed punchlines and satirical self-deprecation to a delightful extreme. The comedians take a hard and heavy subject matter approaching it in a light-hearted and innovative way; it is this light-heartedness that allows the audience to understand the complexity of mental health. Rather than treating mental health with a grave sincerity, these actors did just the opposite: they demonstrate that sometimes the best medicine for sadness is a strong dose of laughter.
If you want to see two comedians high-five about depression, go and see it for yourselves!