There’s certainly no shortage of solo shows about mental health at the Fringe so it takes a certain level of quality to stand out. Luckily, Annie Sertich manages to more than keep afloat.
By talking about mental health and suicide, hopefully shows like this can create a more open and less stigmatising society.
Suicide is an important issue in the UK. The Samaritans receive one phone call every six seconds. Therefore anything which raises awareness of the subject is useful, and it is even better when it is coupled with a great artistic performance.
This show tells the story of Annie, an American who goes through substantial turmoil, driving her to the point of having suicidal feelings. Her edgy style keeps the audience on their toes. She opens with a very upbeat life coach before quickly breaking down. This sudden change, so early in the performance, is captivating and really exposes the raw reality of mental health difficulties which many people attempt to offer up and which often having devastating consequences.
It is clear that one of Annie’s coping mechanisms is humour which she uses to her advantage in the performance. She is witty and has a very good repartee with the audience. She is very frank about her lack of knowledge of Scottish cultural references which makes for a very funny couple of minutes. She is also very frank about her mental health and when this is juxtaposed against her natural humour she has the ability to draw tears and laughter in quick succession.
Sertich's life has not been easy and it was a privilege to hear what she has gone through; her openness about sharing her suicidal thoughts was very heartwarming. Her stage presence was excellent and her use of descriptive language really helped the audience. It was clear she knows what she is doing to hold the audience’s attention and easily twists and turns emotions with her captivating metaphors and mystical facial expressions.
While everyone has their own individual story, there are universal themes which many can relate to, especially in this show. By talking about mental health and suicide, hopefully shows like this can create a more open and less stigmatising society.