• Amy Toledano

Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands presented by Paper Cut Theatre

What Is It?

Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands is a one-hour play exploring mental health in a world that prefers easy answers to uncomfortable truths, written by Melissa Dunne and presented by Papercut Theatre.

What Is It About?

Mental health. More specifically, changing the way we speak about mental health, and changing the way mental health is represented in the creative arts.

How Did It Make Me Feel?

Good. This piece is an innovative exploration of how mental health stories are told. It begins with humour, introducing us to four tropes, the beautiful white woman (Josie Charles), the non-aggressive woman of colour (Tricia Wey), the angry white man (Joe Eyre) and the man who is ‘a bit brown’ (Hamza Siddique), each tired of the way their stories and arcs are portrayed in popular culture. All four actors deserve praise for energetic and (physically) relentless performances.

Melissa Dunne’s writing is clever, witty and empathic throughout. There are some intense moments where you feel the characters’ anxiety and depression fill the space. Wiebke Green has done an impressive job with a difficult setting - the Cavern room is a long archway, echoey and humid, but this did not detract from the performance. There were a couple of moments at the beginning where Dunne’s self-aware writing style did not connect as effectively as it did later on. A witty conversation about the emotional crux of mental health arcs made clear that a lack of climax was deliberate, however an emotional punch at the end may not have hurt the success of the piece in deconstructing the problematic way mental health is portrayed in popular culture.

Anything Else?

Structurally, and in intent, this piece reminded me incredibly fondly of Bryony Kimmings’ ‘A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer’. As with many festival shows, there are compromises that the production makes, and this piece has fantastic potential - I would love to see it again with the full technical and production support the team and the writing deserves.

Calum x

Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands is playing in the Cavern, VAULT Festival, until the 16th February 2020.

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