The Invisible Condition
Reviewed – 10th August 2017
“the piece in its current state lacks theatricality”
Last Word Theatre’s new piece, The Invisible Condition, serves as a verbatim fragment poem, addressing the state of Mental Health Services in our current social climate through a collection of incomplete personal narratives. Incredibly relevant and informative, the piece speaks to a subject matter that demands awareness and consideration, however without a narrative through line or strong distinctive characters, the piece was left waning somewhat between documentary drama and research essay.
Verbatim theatre is a tricky beast to master; with an amorphous mass of textual information, often unrelated or contradictory, the task of weaving together a compelling theatrical narrative can be a daunting one. The Invisible Condition seems to struggle with this task, occasionally edging more towards a presentation that a piece of theatre. In this style, the overwhelming variety of characters and stories, presented largely through direct address, often leaves the audience groping for some form of concrete centrepiece to tie it all together.
Despite this lack of structural integrity, the stories that are told are pregnant with humanity and tender with the stories of those who’s voices are left unheard. Navigating between the testimony of medical professionals, patients and academics, the full compliment of those that make up Mental Health services are present and correct, and a full array of perspectives and arguments are exchanged.
Some really beautiful moments of acting came through in more intense moments of pure monologue and character, extended sections of speech which allowed the audience to invest in the story of a single character, and the occasional theatrical and metaphorical use of props was greatly appreciated, and contrasted well with the simplicity of the aesthetic. However, largely speaking, the piece in its current state lacks theatricality and focus of attention and is in desperate need of strong visual cues or movement to break up the performance of the text and bring a more contextualised understanding of the stakes of these incredibly powerful stories.
Reviewed by Tasmine Airey
THE INVISIBLE CONDITION
is at The Etcetera Theatre until 13th August
as part of Camden Fringe Festival