Review: Cracked at Nottingham Lakeside Theatre

3.5 STARS

‘Cracked’ is a tale of two states of mind: the coherent and its opposite. They clash against each other from the moment the audience enter the theatre – a Greek chorus in blank, eerie masks stand silently inside a circle of stacked chairs, gazing at the crowd. The visual tension between the disorienting masks and the plastic chairs is an example of the way these two separate worlds meet and coexist in this collaboration “between the Arts and the Academy” of Warwick University: a story about those suffering from psychosis and their nearest and dearest.

The three unnamed central characters of ‘Cracked’ are known to us in relation to their mentally ill relatives. The desperate, conflicted mother played by Tonia Daley-Campbell was a particular stand-out – whereas sometimes the dialogue delivered by the carers felt like one long apology, Daley-Campbell brought a real warmth and personality to her lines. In moments where the actors had to shift to playing other characters, Vimal Korpal shone. He flawlessly shifted from a reserved husband, to a sulky teenage boy, to a regret-filled brother. The dialogue of the carers was taken from interviews with real relatives of mentally-ill young people, and in places it was incredibly affecting, grounding the performance with small and tragic details.

The other half of the play was the opposite of these everyday confessions. The chorus, all young people in everyday clothing, chanted and threatened and moved snakelike about the stage, speaking in poetry that occasionally tipped over into the self-indulgent. The intervals in which the chorus invaded the carers’ scenes were long and not always the powerful experience they were intended to be. However, the performances the young people gave were faultless – we discovered in the post-show talk that they only had a day and a half to prepare, something the audience would not have been able to guess.

It is undeniable that ‘Cracked’ is important, shining a light on the intersection between race and mental illness. The benefits of a consciousness-raising in this area vastly outweigh the hints of pretentiousness that sometimes leak into the chorus scenes. For people with an interest in mental health, whether personal or professional, ‘Cracked’ is certainly worth seeing.

http://www.santetheatre.co.uk/

Image source:

http://www.birmingham-rep.co.uk/event/bedlam-cracked/