Home » London Theatre Reviews » Flossie Golightly Productions presents Chronic – SWK Fest | Review

Flossie Golightly Productions presents Chronic – SWK Fest | Review

This play had enormous potential set out in front of it, compelling subject matter and an exciting theatrical style. However, writers Cat Bensley and Stuart Foulston fail to take this show to the peaks it might have achieved.

Flossie Golightly Productions presents ChronicCat (Cat Bensley) struggles and battles through long term depression, she is repeatedly dismissed by doctors, seeks support from psycho-therapists and is eventually able to shake the black dog of depression. Chronic’s structure is conventional and knows where to hold back, the storytelling is intuitive and the direct address style is effective in involving the audience in the dramaturgy and what is happening on stage.

Bensley is lively on stage and her voice is strong. There is a hint of self-indulgence and her mostly believable performance has good comedic beats but lacks vibrancy and vulnerability which might have given this show the weight it would have benefited from.

The design of the show leaves a lot to be desired, it is reminiscent of the 2017 craze for one performer shows, but where those shows were electric and dynamic this falls back on tropes and cliches. The set is made up of a piano, two chairs and a literal ‘soap box’, and does not add to the musical at any point. The lighting design has been neglected, on multiple occasions Bensley steps outside the spotlights and we just can’t see her; when the lighting is used it is mostly dull and uninventive, and strobe lighting in the closing number felt cheap.

At the heart of the show was the neglect of a patient living with mental health issues, and was constantly dismissed by male doctors. There is a lot we need to do in terms of dismantling narratives of women ‘making up illnesses’ it is a practice out of time and aside from the sexism it puts women’s lives at risk. This show does touch on that, however, the payoff at the end is that the doctors were right all along, and while there is a compelling moment in which resonance is found with a female psychologist, having the doctor be right abruptly closed off any compelling discourse this show might have brought about.

As a career depressive, this show did not resonate with me. While it is crucially told from the perspective of a woman in a male designed and male-run system, and I cannot relate to that, the rhetoric and performance of mental health was not believable, lacked depth and did not hit home.

2 gold stars

Review by Tom Carter

Chronic is a ‘hysterical’ one-woman reflection on a journey that navigates an invisible chronic illness, exploring the unconscious medical bias that was experienced along the way. It questions how far we’ve really come since the Freudian days of medical misogyny.

Through music and humour, we follow Cat’s journey from her initial symptoms to an acceptance of the disease, experiencing the challenges she faces, not only from her doctors, but mentally and physically. Cat’s initial aspiration is overshadowed by her illness, but this doesn’t stop her finding joy in the most unexpected ways; not in the actualisation of goals, but in simply just ‘being.’ Something we should all be striving for, chronic disease or not.

Creative Team
Director Annabel Mutale Reed
Dramaturgy Matthew Rankcom
Sound Designer Anouk Scheepens
MD and Orchestrator Sarah Morrison
Artwork Alfie Eyden
Band Nick Hill
Gemma Connor Charlie Maguire

Cast
Cat Bensley

Flossie Golightly Productions presents
as part of SWK Fest
Chronic
by Cat Bensley and Stuart Foulston
https://www.southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/

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