SAD
  • By Mel Evans
  • |
  • 14th Apr 2022
  • |
  • ★★★★

SAD is a new play by Victoria Willing, directed by Marie McCarthy at the Clapham Omnibus.

The writing is beautiful, unpredictable and at times, very funny.

It’s about a woman, Gloria, who is suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. She has retreated to live in her attic and has been living there for some time. Her husband, Graham, brings her food and empties her bucket. We witness her thoughts and feelings as she records a personal memoire of her hermitage. We also see how she behaves when visited by her husband, her best friend Magda, and the next-door neighbour Daniel.

As the play progresses, we become aware that Gloria’s struggle is more complicated than we first appreciate. Yes, she suffers from S.A.D. but she is simultaneously trying to cope with the sudden death of her mother, the absence of her daughter, disillusionment with her job, dissatisfaction with her marriage, and an increasing anxiety that she has wasted her life and that time is running out. It is Seasonally Affective Disorder, compounded by grief, age and existential crisis.

The writing is beautiful, unpredictable and at times, very funny. It is deftly supported by Maria McCarthy’s clever but unobrusive direction. Alys Whitehead’s inspired set construction creates the confines and atmosphere of Gloria's attic retreat – we peer into the attic as if we are peering into Gloria's brain. Dan Light effectively externalises Gloria’s imagination with video projections, and the sound design by Joe Dines is nostaligic – reminding of us Gloria’s youthful past with snatches of Bowie and X-ray Spex.

There is a subplot that happens outside the attic - a story about the son of the neighbour, Daniel (who is a corrupt housing officer) breaking into Magda’s house. I think this was intended to broaden out the perspective of the play and to explore the other characters in more depth, away from the confines of the attic, but I found it more distracting than supporting and I think the play could probably do without it.

The performances are all very good. Kevin N Golding is angry, well-meaning and vulnerable as Graham. Izabella Urbanowicz, as Magda, captures the bewilderment and longing of someone who is trying to carve out an honest life in a corrupt and unfair system. Lucas Hare plays the peculiar and contradictory Daniel with warmth, humour, aggression and an unsettling lasciviousness.

Debra Baker is outstanding. She manages the inner complexity of the struggle that Gloria is experiencing, and this manifests beautifully in bouts of playfulness, anger, regret and affection.

The play really shows us our mental health in all of its depth and with all of its pressures and variables - and while a label such as the S.A.D. acronym might sometimes be a useful and appropriate shorthand to describe a specific kind of depression, the simple word ‘sad’ might also be used as a comprehensive and profound way of summarising our lived experience with depression in all of its complexity.

SAD is on until the end of April and as word gets out, I imagine it will be increasingly difficult to get a ticket.

Visit Show Website

Reviews by Mel Evans

Cartridge Pl

The Burnt City

★★★★★
Omnibus Theatre

SAD

★★★★
Southwark Playhouse

The Woods

★★★
The Brockley Jack Theatre

Richard II

★★★
Jermyn Street Theatre

Rain and Zoe Save The World

★★
Park Theatre London

Never Not Once

★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

On Christmas Day Gloria cooked the turkey that killed her mother. Now Gloria’s living in the attic, sleeping on a dog bed and shitting in a bucket.She’s perfectly content though. Her friend Magda visits. Her husband Graham brings ham sandwiches. Her neighbour Daniel fits perfectly through the Velux. In fact as long as she can blast Bowie and bask in the light of her SAD lamp, there’s no reason to come downstairs at all.

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