Hysterical

Hysterical is a dark comedy exploring the boundaries of mental health and wellbeing in today’s corporate reality, where work-life balance often equals yoga, medication and therapy. Set between an advertising agency and an in-patient facility, Hysterical seeks to challenge the sanctity of our sanity and explore the darker corners of our psyche.

Hysterical sets out to advance open discussion about mental health issues by demonstrating vulnerability, courage and open heartedness onstage.

June has landed her dream job at a top advertising agency, but when her first case is to re-brand water, she starts to worry she could lose more than just her job. The playwright Karis Halsall joins forces with All In director Stephen Sobal, to create a comedy with tragic undertones. Grounded in clinical cooperation with the UCL and lived-through experiences of the creators, Hysterical explores how gender and modern day pressures influence our mental health.

While this is a worthy subject, Hysterical presents us with a black and white world without any real depth. I found the characters rather one-dimensional and mere caricatures. June is an ambitious and hardworking yet caring sister who buckles under pressure, her brother Christopher is a talented musician too sensitive to face the world, the advertising executive Mercedes is the evil twin sister of Miranda from The Devil Wears Prada and her assistant Catherine is the air-headed blonde bombshell.

It’s the refreshingly absurdist elements brought by the inventive use of puppetry that truly save the play. The best moments are delivered by an upsettingly anatomically correct doll, the lion from Wizard of Oz and a rollerblading Virgin Mary. All in all, the widely used circus aesthetics fit perfectly within the sometimes peculiar world of advertising. As a Copywriter myself, I have can safely say I have seen a clown or two in my career.

Hysterical sets out to advance open discussion about mental health issues by demonstrating vulnerability, courage and open heartedness onstage. While hopefully succeeding in its important mission, it doesn’t quite succeed in delivering a truly memorable and exciting theatrical experience.

Reviews by Johanna Makelainen

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Performances

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The Blurb

Set between a frantic advertising agency and an in-patient facility, June, a virgin clown, and her associates attempt to re-brand water, wellness, madness and Madonna.

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