CANCEL THE SUNSHINE, Hope Theatre - Review

image (c) Samuel Taylor

How was your weekend? Really?  Not bending the truth a bit?

Written by Chantelle Dusette and directed by Scott Le Crass, Cancel The Sunshine is an intimate portrayal of a woman who feels out of step with the world around her.

While other big profile plays such as People, Places and Things examine what it's like to experience psychiatric care in an institutionalised setting, CTS is in some ways a 'smaller' story and more universally relatable, as one young woman seeks help for her sense of alienation from the excesses of society.

The beauty of Dusette's script is that there are no obvious signs initially that the main character is 'unusual' or antisocial. She has the same gripes with banal conversations at work and feels compelled to have a good time at the weekend so her life in some ways reflects the way it is portrayed on Facebook (don't we all).

As excellent as the writing and direction is, what really elevates this play is the performance of its star, Maya Thomas. Not having a name, her character's anonymity universalizes her experiences. Winning us over with her observations and candidness, we discover how inch by inch depression and anxiety can take ahold and consume one's well-being from within. Thomas' performances oscillates between witty repartee, prose that plays with rhythm and repetition, and naked emotion – the latter increasing so as the play progresses, eventually reaching its crescendo.

The play's overall message – while unflinching in its depiction of mental health in everyday life – is paradoxically hopeful and reassures us that nobody is beyond reach, or indeed that those that undertake counselling are different at all from us. There but for the grace of God go I... The video footage produced by Johnny Atto that's shown before and after the main part of the play is suitably disturbing, exhibiting an off-kilter quality that mirrors the absence of equilibrium in Thomas's character's mind.

Thomas in Cancel The Sunshine is without a doubt one of the year's best performances to date. It may sound like hyperbole, but at one point in the play, an audience member spontaneously applauded. While such acknowledgement was out of place after that particularly tense scene, it was in one sense understandable. It was simply THAT GOOD. Suffice to say Thomas received a well-deserved standing ovation at the end of the play. A-bloody-mazing.

© Michael Davis 2016

Cancel The Sunshine runs at the Hope Theatre until 2nd April 2016.

 

Author's review: 
5