Yellow, written by Conky Campfner, is a modern adaptation of a Victorian short story The Yellow Newspaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Charlotte (Grainne Dromgoole) is suffering from post-natal depression, trapped and unable to express her feelings. Her only outlets of writing and reading are stunted by her husband and put to a stop by unempathetic and unhelpful doctor’s orders (both roles played by Christopher Page). It is potent and sophisticated in its depiction of post-natal depression.
Potent and sophisticated.
Dromgoole’s portrayal of Charlotte was exceptional, as her generous and authentic relationship turned bleak and oppressive. Her husband seemed both well-intentioned and tolerant yet failed to help the trapped woman, instead building her prison walls even higher. The company utilised their minimalistic set creatively, transposing the audience into the desperate mind of Charlotte as she gazed endlessly at the all-surrounding 'headache in two dimensions' wallpaper.
Yet shouldn’t we listen to a doctor over a vague and undefined online community? This assumption would be right, although the play innovatively exposes the shortcomings of the medical community in relation to women’s mental health. Post-natal depression is significantly underdiagnosed and many women suffer in silence.
Without demonising a largely loving and kind husband, a significant comment was made through the male multi-rolling: two men decided how Charlotte should feel and how she could get better without ever listening to her actual experience. From her harrowing dream to his dismissal of her self-expression, she was isolated and condemned.
By the second voiceover, I began to ask if these were really necessary. Wouldn’t it be preferable to hear a monologue or see Charlotte become more reactive during these scenes? In hindsight, however, these scenes were instrumental in conveying the weight of her depression. This was particularly effective when Charlotte’s husband was drowned out, conveying her inability to communicate.
If this show re-emerges in Edinburgh or anywhere beyond, grab your chance to see Squid Ink Theatre’s innovative piece.