Electrolyte

A frantic look into a life fractured by speed-bumps, set to a fantastic musical back-drop. 

Electrolyte

Unusually for me, I wandered into this performance without trepidation. It was sold to me as a multi-media, theatre piece with a blend of original music and spoken word. Admittedly, this kind of thing might well have scared me off when I first started writing for Voice. I think I might be growing as a person. It's beautiful, isn't it? Anyway, moving on. 

What drew me to this piece was chiefly its attempt to smash some barriers surrounding mental health. This is a growing problem globally, but the British are certainly up there with countries worst affected (I put it down to our proudly defended tradition of emotional constipation). Mental health is poorly understood, poorly funded, still negatively perceived and of course, affects everyone. As such, anything seeking to bridge the gap where this is concerned had to be worth a punt. 

The piece follows the smoking bomb-crater of a life of our female protagonist, who finds herself cutting some shapes in a club with her rag-tag group of mates. This opening scene was telling for the style of the whole performance; the juxtaposition between the throbbing energy emanating from the stage and the sober, quietly comfortable audience could easily have left our actors seeming disingenuous, like the kind of cheesy acting you'd expect from a 'facts of life' DVD they'd roll out in school. But no, they go for it. 

The excitement is palpable, the music a dull roar against the shouts of the group, the wildness of our protagonists eyes and words. Interspersed throughout is a lovely sprinkle of fourth-wall comedy (much lacking in the dodgy 'facts-of-life' DVD previously mentioned), banter and musical interludes that complement the mood of the moment. 

The mental health element of our story is not revealed until very late in the game, which I actually found very refreshing. Instead of shoving you in at the deep end, you're confronted with the real truth of mental health; namely that everyone who suffers from it is just another person going about their day, and some of the worst conditions are borne out of taking one too many knocks that we all face in life. 

Her problems are normal. Friends moving away, becoming lost in new commitments or simply going off our radar. Feeling lost, without purpose, or like everyone you have close to you are simply an accident of geography, rather than the result of any real effort. Her dreams are however, unbridled by whatever limits they probably ought to have, be that around her passion to pursue her career as an artist or exploring her family roots. What really struck me was the real-time narrative that followed throughout, which perfectly captured the distressed, roiling and often random thoughts of someone reassessing their life, a mentally violent process that often goes by in silence. 

I only have one nerdy criticism-the thematic message of 'we are all made of stardust and dreams', which I'd swap for 'we are all stardust that's figured out how to dream about itself'. But to be honest, it doesn't sound nearly as poetic. 

On a more sober note, this piece made me cry, which I don't remember happening before at any other show. The connection this show draws with the audience is raw and genuine, and I thoroughly recommend it to everybody with a brain, healthy or otherwise. 

Header Image Credit: Wildcard Theatre Company

Author

Daniel Hodgkiss

Daniel Hodgkiss Contributor

I am a nature-loving country boy who likes to dabble in illustration and get lost in a good book, I hope to write a few of my own eventually. Honestly, I use this as an excuse to get out more and keep writing...

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