Camden Fringe 2019: In Limbo at Tristan Bates Theatre
In Limbo by SevenArc Productions is a play that seeks to discuss current issues regarding mental health in the UK. Working with the organisation Samaritans, the show discusses male suicide through an honest piece of theatre with heartfelt moments that, while being admirable in its political gesture and sentiment, is also unfortunately predictable.
The plot resembles the classic Frank Capra film It’s a Wonderful Life, adopting the same basic story structure with a few tweaks. We follow a young man named James (Shaun Amos) who has just tried to kill himself. In the space between life and death, his memories are triggered by a guide (Anna MacArthur) who shows him flashbacks of the events that led up to the present and the feelings that resulted in him making his decision. The ending is powerful politically, acting as a gesture that lets the audience know these overwhelming feelings won’t last forever, and life is worth living.
While portraying a predictable narrative, the play is undoubtedly heartfelt in its message, with some captivating moments of vulnerability that directly address the topic of mental illness. The scenes in the latter part of the production featuring James being unable to express his feelings to his loved ones, Sarah ( Beatrice Hyde) and Beth ( Catherine Boyle), are especially powerful and heart-breaking. There is a beautiful honesty in the acting and depression is treated with respect as the cast don’t give into portraying tropes or stigmas regarding mental health and suicide. However, the dialogue seems stilted at times and the character of the spiritual guide vague and two-dimensional.
In Limbo delivers an important message and is extremely topical – discussing suicide is a conversation that must be had. The production portrays a depiction that is truthful and superbly acted. However, as a piece of new writing, it lacks originality in its storytelling devices. Nothing surprising is presented to challenge our expectations surrounding depression and suicide, and perhaps a more in-depth exploration into these issues is called for.
Photo: SevenArc Productions
In Limbo is at Tristan Bates Theatre from 31st July until 3rd August 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
For further information about Camden Fringe 2019 visit the festival website here.