CHOO CHOO! (Or... Have You Ever Thought About ****** **** *****? (Cos I Have)) is a brightly coloured exploration of mental health and intrusive thoughts in a way that everyone regardless of age can understand and learn about. Written by Nye Russell Thompson and directed by Nerida Bradley, this show is an incredibly accessible, step-by-step introduction and guide to intrusive thoughts, as this show encourages us to reflect on the impact of intrusive thoughts on our own experiences and relationships.
Reminds us that we’re not alone, and that help is there if we need it
Two best friends, Nye (Thompson) and Duncan (Duncan Hallis) spend their days singing and playing games with each other. Whilst they are in the midst of preparing for their holiday, Nye starts becoming affected by intrusive thoughts, and Duncan must find a way to help his friend. CHOO CHOO! (Or... Have You Ever Thought About ****** **** *****? (Cos I Have)) finds a way to discuss this sensitive topic in a thoughtful and playful manner, and gives us a starting point on how we can support our friends.
The style that this show takes is one of a children’s programme and uses the simplicity of this form to explain a very complex topic, using the lights, set and costumes to create a vaguely innocent atmosphere to tackle this subject in a way that everyone can understand it. The form that this show takes allows for a gentle and gradual discussion of how intrusive thoughts can impact someone’s life and how we can identify them.
Thompson and Hallis have an uncanny ability to play off each other, and the chemistry that they have onstage drives the show forward. They run with the comedy gags as they as the come, committing to the bit as far as it will take them to maintain the light, comedic aesthetic of the show whilst delving into a very heavy and difficult subject to portray and discuss sensitively. Through this show, the pair attempt to normalise how we approach intrusive thoughts specifically, taking baby steps in order to take the conversation up further. Their contrasting personas not only provide an ample opportunity for comedy and humour, but incredibly touching moments of support where the friendship between the pair really shines through. The marked difference and noticeable decline in Thompson’s demeanour impacts the atmosphere of the show considerably, really setting the tone for each moment in the show.
This show gives us the tools and building blocks that we need to identify intrusive thoughts and how we can be there for our friends when they themselves have them. This show reminds us that we’re not alone, and that help is there if we need it.