In Search of Myself

Mental health is a topic often uncomfortable or awkward to address directly, especially when tackling very personal experiences. Although as a society we are taking a huge step forward in terms of encouraging discussions around mental health, negative stereotypes and the stigma of living with a mental health illness still needs to be eradicated. In Search of Myself sensitively, yet wholeheartedly, tackles this by providing us with an intimate glimpse into a manic episode Eve (Jessamy James) is being controlled by. This hard-hitting, thought-provoking and unapologetically poignant play captures the helplessness Eve and her partner Jim (Nathaniel Fairnington) who fails to recognise the behavioural and emotional cues that indicated Eve was suffering with depression. This is an honest, powerful and emotional piece of theatre that will leave you silenced at first and then deep in thought for hours.

This is an honest, powerful and poignant piece of theatre that will leave you silenced at first and then deep in thought for hours.

In Search of Myself simultaneously addresses the helplessness, confusion and panic of Eve as she battles a manic episode alone, whilst providing an insight into how Jim missed the warning signs. The present – the height of Eve’s manic episode – and the past – the warning signs missed by Jim – alternate so we can see the tragic consequences of Jim’s lack of understanding unravelling as the warning signs become more obvious. The clever scene-switching not only parallels Eve's manic and unstructured thoughts, but also allows us to be reminded of the witty, caring, sarcastic Eve who is being controlled by this manic episode.

Benedetta Basil, director and writer, sensitively but wholeheartedly tackles how patients feel about the drugs they are taking for depression and highlighting the little control they have over what is going into their bodies. The audience are invited into the emotional hospital scenes as we are acknowledged by Eve, becoming a physical representation of her delusions. An uncomfortable yet powerful technique used to demonstrate the severity of the delusions controlling her. This was the most powerful part of the play as it had the most impact on the audience. Although other scenes were not as poignant, the messages they shared and awareness they raised were paramount.

The medical professionals were portrayed as faceless and impersonal, allows us to purely focus on the impact the manic episode has on Eve and their fiery relationship with the medical professionals who rigidly stick to protocol. Interactions between Eve, Jim and the medical professionals showcase the lack of understanding on both sides of the desk. On the one hand, Jim’s lack of awareness and mocking results in Eve not feeling confident to ask him for help. On the other hand, the medical professionals following ‘protocol’ show a lack of understanding towards how Eve feels as a patient not having any control over which drugs enter her body.

In Search of Myself is a brilliantly powerful and inventive way of shedding light on serious issues hindering the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders such as depression and bipolar. You will be left deep in thought, silenced and thoroughly captivated.

Reviews by Ellie Thompson

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The Blurb

Jim and Eve before, during, and after, a manic episode. Eve has to deal with the highs and lows of a mood she has no control over, delusions that change her personality, and the state of her mental health, while struggling with depression. Jim has to deal with the sharp memories and feelings connected to what happened, what she did, and what she said in the moments he couldn’t recognise her, and the way he has just made it worse. "An incredibly important piece... powerful piece of theatre" (The Reviews Hub)