Balancing Acts is a cleverly staged, intimate and honest look at the coping mechanisms, the ‘balancing acts,’ of six individuals when it comes to depression. Feral Foxy Ladies are a feminist theatre company, collaborating here for the second time with Kaleido Film Collective to create this unique piece of work.
The audience are told the name, age and ‘balancing act’ of each individual via a projection screen at the back, and then the audio recordings kick in and we see a variety of images and recordings displayed too. This is joined by some beautiful poignant movement and voice by performer Katherine Vince as she becomes each ‘balancer.’
The audio recordings of these people are so real. The emotion really comes across, and some of the things they say are very moving. They discuss how they cope when they find themselves on the edge, or how it can just spring up on them. “It’s like I’ve filled up with emotion and overflowed.”
Most importantly, they speak about how they cope. We hear about deep sea diving, painting and singing to name just a few activities.
The pace of this piece is steady, with a few attention-grabbing moments that cause the audience to sit up. These moments are a mix of sudden sound changes, particularly poignant words spoken, or particularly mesmerising movement.
Katherine Vince is engrossed in her performance from the beginning, and really makes this piece what it is. She is effortless, and takes on each new individual’s story effectively through her physicality. The staging is strong throughout, with a lot of moveable set and props that at first look like they will be unnecessary but then prove that they do work. A table, an armchair, a storage unit… they all establish the different characters. They help the audience imagine the person speaking and where they might have been when they recorded, and how telling their story was affecting them at the time.
Although the laugh out loud humour is scarce, there are some lovely make-you- smile moments, and a few spine shiver moments too, both the good and the bad. This show is a real journey of emotion, and you forget you are watching a show with other people, you begin to feel like you are personally listening to the speaker.
Only a couple of small things let this piece down. It may be nice to have heard Vince mimicking the voices of the people a little more. The body language used, especially when interpreting male interviewees, was excellent, so a matching vocal would be ideal. The show also took a while to settle; there seemed to be a moment a couple of stories in when the audience worked out what the format was, and relaxed a little more.
Overall however, this piece is honest, open and well executed. Vince as a performer is extremely authentic and brave, and really does all the stories, and herself, justice. If any audience member had no personal experience of depression, or even how it can affect people, it is good to know that they will go away with more of an understanding. It’s good also, to know that sufferers are not alone, and there is always a way to cope, it’s just a process of finding that balancing act first.
Review by H Hemming
Balancing Acts invites you to share in intimate stories of struggle, strength and resistance. This solo-performance incorporates audio interviews, film, verbatim, and physical theatre to open up and respond to the honest and hopeful accounts of six individuals dealing with depression, who find different and diverse ways to cope: from diving and sex to song.
The performance aims to build a deeper emotional and sensorial insight into the experience of depression, encourage new conversations and explore ways to deal with and potentially overcome it.
25th – 29th January at 18:30