Poignant, moving, funny at times, yet deeply uncomfortable. The Almighty Sometimes, the multi-award-winning play by Australian playwright Kendall Feaver, is about holding on, and letting go.
Hot off the heels of Selena Gomez’s new documentary My Mind and Me, a theatre production with mental illness at its core is a welcome addition to the conversations being had to normalise discussions around mental health and wellbeing. The play examines different relationships; the relationship between a mother and her child as adulthood looms, the first glow of blossoming romantic love, true friendship, and the relationship we all have with our own minds. Importantly, The Almighty Sometimes shines a spotlight on the ways in which society shuns people with mental health conditions and how the medical profession treats patients, much of which is still in the research and testing phases.
The Almighty Sometimes – synopsis
Anna (brought to life with effervescence by newcomer Arielle Jasmine Van Zuijlen) is twenty-one years old and has suffered from a mental illness since childhood. We learn from her conversations with her mother, Renee (brilliantly portrayed by Karen Tan) and her psychiatrist (played with subtle beauty by Shona Benson) that Anna is not happy with her treatment plan and wants to see who she is without medication. Suffering from writer’s block and slow thoughts, Anna finds a collection of her old writing work she created as a child stored in her mother’s room, and Anna believes she had a gift she could rediscover if only she wasn’t taking pills for her illness.
Spurred by her burgeoning relationship with her new boyfriend (the sweetly funny Salif Hardie), an old classmate, Anna embarks on a journey of self-discovery (and destruction) in an attempt to free herself of her mother’s suffocating overbearance and the confines of her medicated state. The ramifications of this are heartbreakingly evident, and questions are raised around the nature of medical consent and the experimental and sometimes questionable side effects of the drugs used to treat mental health conditions.
Anna learns to appreciate her mother’s stubborn love for her and the sacrifices and suffering she has endured for Anna’s sake. There is so much beauty in their fragile relationship.
Why you should see this play
If you suffer from, know, or love someone with a mental health condition (which so many of us do), this story will resonate. The scenes of Anna spiralling out of control are difficult to watch, and the darkness of her mind and the stories she tells feel all too much like a real experience of a sufferer. There are some beautifully tender scenes and some really funny moments, too – the scene where Renee releases her stress through swearing had us in fits of laughter. You will be moved, and you will learn, and like all good theatre, you will feel as though you have seen through another’s eyes with an empathy you didn’t have before the experience.
Tips to enjoy the show
This is not for the faint-hearted or for young children. It’s a great experience to share with older teens 16 years and over and could open some very interesting conversations. Theatre-loving friends and book club goers will also enjoy debating the layered themes. Definitely grab a drink from the bar (we can enjoy refreshments in the theatre again!) and treat yourself to dinner at a nearby restaurant (Wine Connection, Super Loco, Tapas 24, Les Bouchons and Publico are all within walking distance).
Let us know what you think! We would love to hear your thoughts on the performance! Please share your reviews with us at [email protected]