Reviewed by Aisha Kherallah
Mind-Full, written and directed by Katrina Wooley, aims to address the taboos and misconceptions about mental health, whilst also providing a safe space for those who may be suffering with a way to cope. In one and a half hours the play covers Anorexia, OCD, Depression and Anxiety – although other mental illnesses are also addressed. This is carried out through numerous monologues and duologues which are then split by a graphics played out on the white sheet backdrop.
The design of Mind-Full is very simple and aims to focus on what is being said. The actors are dressed in black jeans and white t-shirts, with the set composed only of white sheets and a bench. There is little in the way of distractions making the words all the more powerful; the audience are forced to focus on what is being said. In true professional style, one actor was not even distracted by the man next to me who started having a coughing fit from his beer mid-monologue.
The play is verbatim, meaning all the monologues are transcribed word-for-word from real interviews with students from Edinburgh and beyond. The play takes extracts from the interviews conducted; Katrina has edited it to make a flowing piece of work in which all the interviews work in tandem with each other. This gives the play a real resonance, as it takes mental illnesses out of abstraction. I am impressed by the honesty of those who were willing to share their experiences and I hope it inspires others to recognise that mental health is not something to be endured in isolation.
Mind-Full cleverly informs the audience without patronising. For instance, it offers a deeper understanding of complex mental health disorders such as OCD, and how they can manifest themselves in various ways. I was particularly impacted by the realisation that I am a culprit of being insensitive to sufferers by using ‘OCD’ as a jokey adjective.
Although Mind-Full does not hold much of a storyline due to its nature, it finishes with a message of outreach to those suffering, and their friends and family. It suggests some positive and negative reactions when discussing mental health, and potential steps one can take to help combat these illnesses. It seems to be a fitting end; leading a difficult subject – one which society often tries to ignore – into a more open discussion. Mind-Full provides the audience with room for much self-reflection.
Mind-Full continues its run at Assembly Roxy on the 19th and 20th November, 7pm.