Snap Out Of It!


An important work that asks us "not to feel, but to consider", writes HANNAH MIRSKY.

Pembroke New Cellars, 7pm, Tue 5th – Sat 9th March, £5

directed by Charlie Bindels and Elizabeth Schenk

 

I know what you’re thinking. You’ve seen the flyers, read the publicity. You’re thinking ‘devised verbatim theatre’ – really? This is a play that calls itself a ‘project’. Sounds a bit poncy. Sounds, to be honest, like what thesps come up with when they’ve started taking themselves a touch too seriously.

And, thinking this, you wouldn’t be miles away from the truth. The performance is preceded by an introduction from the directors explaining that the show is built up out of the real-life words of those who have suffered from mental health problems, and that this a way of ‘breaking down silence barriers’ surrounding mental health. This impossible-to-miss explanation of the concept is repeated at the start of the actual performance by one of the actors, who worries about ‘tainting the words with my own emotions’. My heart was sinking at this point. However right the motivation behind this show might be, it looked like I was in for an hour of two of worthy over-emoting. How wrong I was.

It makes a lot of difference that the texts that are read out (literally, from pieces of paper scattered about the room) are texts in which personality shines through. ‘Tea is the answer to everything’ was a phrase that came up early on in this particular performance – the show is different every night – and a reproduction of an interview contained an account of the individual’s parents looking at her ‘like “Umm…sorry what?”‘.

At moments like these you’re blisteringly aware that these are real people’s words. This is not po-faced angst. It’s asking you to take mental health problems seriously not on the grounds that they represent some terrible, unknowable affliction, but because they affect rounded individuals – it’d be a cliché to say ‘just like you and me’ – who suddenly find themselves not themselves, unable to get on with the lives they want to lead. It doesn’t shy away from the tragic and terrible aspects but it does place them in a recognisable context: a shocking first-person account of a suicide attempt included the fact that the individual had been watching The Social Network earlier the same evening.

I wasn’t moved by this production. I never welled up or got shivers. I don’t think you’re supposed to. To exploit these people’s experiences just to deal the audience an emotional blow would be wrong, and it would miss the entire point of this kind of documentary theatre. Some of the least convincing moments were those that felt too acted: sudden shouting, or the points at which the actors addressed the audience directly, in speeches that were fairly clearly not entirely spontaneous, but tried to pass themselves off as such, one even ending with the phrase ‘I just felt that was something I had to say’. This is not a show that needs to be highly wrought, and it is not a show which needs to comment on itself. It’s at its best when what it’s doing is simply presenting all this collated material to the audience, in plain speech, and asking us not to feel but to consider. To listen and form our own opinions.

So yes, it’s not exactly a bundle of laughs, but it’s far from a vanity exercise. It’s the opposite of the kind of indulgent student theatre that, however slick, exists for no reason other than its own slickness. Snap Out Of It! is full of content that really means something, that is showing you what people out there in the world are going through. Mental health is a topic that is beginning to be discussed openly in Cambridge (see marvellous articles in The Tabhere, here and here – and in Varsity here), but more awareness is still necessary. Go and see this show.

  • Anonymous

    nice to see cambridge students doing something to raise awareness about mental illnesses – shame the government doesn’t see to give a shit.

  • christian coleman

    I NEVER THINK I WILL SUCCEED IN GETTING A LOAN FROM THE INTERNET
    Good day, My Friends be very careful, I am Mrs christian coleman,an American who base in the czech republic,i am so confidence to say that one’s in my life time i can experience legitimacy in loan company on the Internet world, if i was directed by somebody else to this company, i wouldn’t have written them because i have been fooled several times by online loan firm on the Internet and i decided stay off applying for loan online until a time came when i was having financial problem due to the predicament i had in my place of work that leads to my sack off in my place of work and i have nobody to run to, my credit was very low,my rent was approaching it expiring dates and my kids have to been in school but due to my ex-sense spending before i got sack off from place of work i have nothing solve all this problem. I have no other option than to come online looking for online loan firm that will help me out of my financial problem and i came across a loan firm and i was scammed of $5000USD in my attempt of obtaining a loan from them and i almost committed suicide and i ask my self is this the end of my life because i am a dieing mother of three kids to take care of,where will i get money to finance their education and pay my bills? all this are the questions that kept running inside my mind and became frustrated in the process of doing that and a words of encouragement came into me instantly saying it is not over yet, keep trying and you will definitely got in touch with your helper very soon and i stood up and said i will give this a last try and if nothing happens that means there is no hope for me any longer. And i went online that very moment and i came across a post by one (Mrs Christiana Douglass) saying that she has never seen a real loan firm like ocean finance Loan Company and instantly i consulted the loan firm by the email which she place on the post and in that same day i got response from the manager(Kenet Mark) and he forward to me all the Rules and Regulations that is guiding the company which will enable me to obtain the loan from them and i ask him how long will it take me to finish the process of my loan because i am planning of getting into business after i lost my job and he said it will take us three to four days if i am fast in replying their message. I ask him,hope i am not going to send any money to them because i was told here in my country that i shouldn’t send any money in getting a loan and he replied by saying that it surprise him when i said that because their is no loan firm online who will render service to a loan seeker without him/her paying anything upfront. It sound very hurt to his hearing and he took it as a pain and explained everything to me and when i have a rethink about it i discovered it was true and that was were those false loan firm took advantage in defrauding people of their had earn money and he gave me his words that i should go on with them and he will took me by surprise that they are truly for real and i went on and apply for a business loan of $200,000.00 USD for the duration of 10years and i paid all the charges that are needed to be paid and like he said he is going to surprise me, that was what he did, it was then i knew that there are still real loan company on the internet otherwise i wouldn’t have known.here is the consultation address:Oceanfinanceloancompany26@yahoo.com …,if you want to. consult them for more information
    Thanks
    MR kennet mark

  • Pingback: Mental Health Writing in Cambridge | Squirrelling the Motion()

Get the best of The Tab on our app.

Strawberries and Creem: The banquet explained

Get your Feast on: Strawberries and Creem Festival’s food line-up revealed

PEXIT: Peterhouse call for CUSU affiliation referendum

‘Peterhouse should not pay unnecessary fees to an organisation that operates with such incompetency and inefficiency’

, Features Editor

Everything Mizz magazine taught us about life in our twenties

Mum thought Sugar and Bliss were too sexy

Review: The best supermarket gin and tonic tins

Because there’s more to life than Gordon’s

and

NUS disaffiliation: The story so far

Three SUs have voted to disaffiliate and three have to remain

The best cheap supermarket prosecco, according to a wine expert

‘This one tastes like it’s been left in the fridge for a week’

, TabTv producer, The Tab Trent

How to be single

There’s an art to it

Which Made In Chelsea character are you?

Imagine if you were Funda