With people in identical blue hospital gowns drifting about the room as the sound of a ticking clock echoes in the background, Shattered! creates from the outset a feeling of tension and discomfort. Each of its monologues focuses on a different mental health issue, from bipolar disorder to post-natal depression and alcoholism; each is dynamic, intense and relatable.
For all it is billed as ‘a raw and honest portrayal’, Shattered! has a sense of artificiality to it. It has a tendency to devolve into something more like PSA than theatre, with characters lecturing the audience on the important of mental health awareness rather than telling their stories.
An important message, certainly, but one that could be delivered with more subtlety. It’s all very well to encourage greater understanding of mental health, but the show’s climax becomes downright accusatory. The chances are the audience of a show all about mental health issues is already aware that they must be understanding – not to mention according to the statistics quoted in the show itself, it’s probable a number of them have personal experience.
Shattered! introduces an element of physical theatre into a genre that is traditionally static. This is much appreciated, but does sometimes become distracting. The ‘sound effects’ yelled out by the actors sometimes drown out the monologue; depending on where you are sitting the constant movement will probably block your view.
But for all its flaws Shattered! is a disquieting and sometimes captivating experience that will hold your attention for an hour. If you’re interested in issues of mental health, it’s probably worth your time.
Shattered! was on at Café Camino (venue 65) until August 24th.