In My Head is a new play by Chris Mayo that “explores the world of depression from the inside”. Consisting of various scenes and set-pieces which are part fiction, part verbatim, it is performed by six actors who each take on multiple roles.
With fast and varied scene changes, there was no time to get bored as we moved from scenario to scenario: an awkward morning-after scene, an employee reluctantly disclosing the details of his mental illness to unsympathetic employers, a counselling session, and a teenager admitting her self-harm to a friend. Other scenes, in which participants described what it is like to have anxiety, were more abstract and surreal, while a satirical game-show piece was particularly unsettling.
Some of the characters we only saw once, while others made multiple appearances in the piece, and we were able to see how their lives played out. This did make for an interesting variety of stories, but I would have preferred to focus on a smaller number of individuals and explore their stories in more depth, particularly given the short length of the play. Having said that, I was interested in all of the characters and found their experiences true-to-life and sympathetic; the play is very good at conveying what it is like to live with a mental illness.
I have to say that I wasn’t particularly impressed with the Proud Archivist as a venue: the soundproofing within the space was poor and the play started forty-five minutes late apparently owing to another event which had been scheduled beforehand. It’s a testament to the professionalism and ability of the actors that they were able to set up the space with speed and efficiency and perform the production as usual. I would be hesitant to attend another show here, which is a shame.