Get Therapy is a fringe musical production that provides a moving yet, entertaining view of group therapy and the complexities behind recovering from mental ill-health.
Danielle Imara’s production is a personal account of her own struggles with mental ill-health and her road to recovery. The intimate stage within the Pleasance Theatre, Islington, the final stop of a national tour, only intensified the emotive performances and was the appropriate setting for Danielle to share her story. The simplicity of the set design was incredibly effective and allowed the actors to fill the space with their character’s narratives. I felt as if I were a fly on the wall of a group therapy session.
The characters Steven, Danielle, Amy, Luke and the Therapist were all very different and I felt that Danielle had designed them to represent the broad spectrum of mental health illnesses and how each person’s unique situation can result in chronic illness. It really made me think about how misunderstood common illnesses like depression, anxiety and BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) can be, society seems to tell us that everyone experiences the same set of symptoms and therefore will all react the same way. Of course, this is not true and I felt that the production really highlighted this with the varying experiences of each character. The effect of budget cuts to treatment was also portrayed very devastatingly and really resonated with me due to the current situation in the NHS for mental health care. Mental ill-health recovery is not a linear process and is often a very fragile one and the effect of being denied care can be extremely unsettling and in this case devastating for those that are suffering.
At times the characters stories really resonated with members of the audience and brought out some very raw emotions. One example that has stuck with me is the character Amy’s depiction of dealing with depression and the disruptive effect it can have on sleep and motivation. The use of sound here was very effective and helped to express the monotony of suffering from depression.
Although this was Danielle’s story, the other characters got as much attention and depth as she did which I felt really engaged the audience with the group. The use of lighting and sound to change scene was also very subtle but worked well and I could easily understand that we had gone to another character’s story either in the present or in the past.
In summary, I felt this was a very honest and powerful production, it was well written with some comedic moments and it felt like the audience was given enough information about each character to really care for them by the end of the play. The clever use of lighting and sound added a depth to the production and helped to navigate through each character’s stories. I would love to see what other creative productions Danielle will write in the future!