This week I went to see 'The Almighty Sometimes' at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. Directed by Katy Rudd, and a winner of the Bruntwood Prize for playwriting in 2015, this play was packed with snappy dialogue, wit, and an indepth understanding of mental health.
'Anna', played by Norah Lopez Holden, has been on medication since the age of 8, at the age of 18, decides she wants to know who she is without the pills.
But Anna's body is reliant on the medication - her brain's processes rely on the chemicals for stability. Once off the medication, Anna's downward spiral is uncontrollable. She becomes cruel and destructive to the only people who support her utterly: her Mother and her then boyfriend, Oliver. She becomes anxious and manipulative so that no one can leave her side. She begins to believe she is some kind of God, and that the medication suppresses her true genius.
I was most affected by Anna's line, at the end of the play - Anna has been hospitalised and her Mother admits that she has been seeing a counsellor herself for depression. Anna brutally says 'What do you expect me to do with that?' and means it.
There is no room in Anna's mind for others - both Oliver and mother, Renee, tell her she never asks questions about their lives. Anna cannot control her own mind, her own sense of self - and so she cannot focus on anyone else.
Her condition requires a constant gratification from her mother and gives nothing back in return.
Put simply, Renee's love for her daughter is thankless, restrictive and isolating.
Director Kate Rudd says 'This play tells the story of a unique experience and does not seek to give answers, it is not representative of everyone's story, but I hope that it will shine a light on families coping with mental illness, that it will encourage a conversation about how we as a society look after our young people with mental health problems.'
Catch the play here.
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