Thursday, 18 February 2016

i'm not alright - Fringe World 2016 (17 February 2016)

A majority of people when they consider Fringe will most likely think of the comedies, the burlesque, the sassy cabarets, and spiegeltent extravaganzas. But Fringe is a broad church that can accommodate an array of styles and tones. Including a show that possibly will be the rawest you’ll see all year. It eschews the glitter and the glamour but what it lacks in pizzazz it makes up for with an honesty that is palpable dealing with subject matter that is brutally frank and confronting. Depression, bi polar disorder, questions of sexuality, of alcoholism, and thoughts of ending it all.

That could prove to be a chore to sit through but writer-performer Daley King imbues this quasi-confessional and auto-biographical tale of his struggles with enough craft and insight to make it compelling. I’m not going to sit here and tell you it’s an easy watch. At times it definitely isn’t. But you squirm not because this is gratuitous or self serving but because it shines a light on a dark place that helps you comprehend what otherwise might be incomprehensible. You also have a sense that there is a cathartic element at work here and more than a glimmer of hope - “I’m not alright, but I’ll be okay.”

To illustrate the duality of someone with bi-polar disorder, King introduces a puppet in his likeness with an American accent that urges and cajoles him to tell it like it is without all the poetic bullshit. Why an American accent, King wonders? Because he always wanted to do one on stage and this might be his only chance. He clinically considers all his failings including, supposedly, his acting ability. There’s no ego here.

Voiceover is used to magnify King’s chaotic inner monologue and to represent other characters like a psychiatrist who seemed part of the problem and not the solution. How does one answer, “how are you feeling?” when the response lies in a potent concoction of poisons designed to end your suffering permanently.

This is a unique show within the Fringe firmament; a difficult one, perhaps even one of its most important. I’m glad I saw it. 

i’m not alright is on at Parrott House until 20 February and is presented by chaos ensemble. 

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