Depression is a real illness that affects 1 in 5 people. It really is a matter of ‘eeny, meeny, miny, mo’, as Phi Theodoros tells us in Depression the Musical.
Through musical cabaret, Theodoros, her talented band (Chad Baker, James Dean, Justin Stone and Robbie Hopkins) and artist Stefan Maguran bring our attention to the ‘Black Dog’ that is depression.
Theodoros obviously went through a lot of work to get this performance up and running and it definitely shows. Theodoros conceived Depression the Musical three years ago and has been collecting personal stories of depression since. The result is a show that doesn’t focus on any one person’s battle, but a whole collective of sufferers. This is, of course, the message of the show: that no one is alone in the battle and that there is always someone to talk to. In fact, the first things you notice when you walk in are pamphlets on the tables, informing the audience of the symptoms of depression and links to helpful organisations.
The show is performed in the function room of Harry’s Bar, with nothing to mark the set other than paintings and stools. This stage created a strange atmosphere, almost relaxing, but with that ever so slightly unsettling feeling of being in an antiquated room. It was perfect for such a performance.
The story is told through a combination of popular music and powerful, almost poetic storytelling. Songs such as Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ and ‘Where is my Mind?’ by The Pixies are cleverly arranged, telling a tale of recovery and hope. Every song had its place and an important role to play, except perhaps an excerpt from Ke$ha’s ‘Tik Tok’ that just didn’t fit. It was amazing, however, that the band managed to make such a wide variety of music fit seamlessly together. I was also particular impressed at how Theodoros managed to keep up such emotional intensity throughout the hour, sometimes near tears, other times falling to her knees screaming.
In addition to music and heart wrenching tales, the show also incorporates visual art. While Theodoros and the band continue to blast us with emotion, Maguran appears from behind a black canvas upon which he began to dribble paint. This live creation of an artwork represented the troubled mind of a depression sufferer sorting itself out through art and was utterly captivating. Even members of the band couldn’t help watching Maguran go about his work.
The most important thing to remember is that Depression the Musical is all about the message. Despite a few technical faults, such as less-than-perfect sound quality and the occasional mistake on an instrument or with spoken lines, Depression the Musical is a powerful piece that the audience will surely think about for some time to come.
Reviewed by James Rudd
Depression The Musical
Venue: Harry’s Bar, 12 Grenfell St, Adelaide
Season: 2 June – 9 June
Duration: 1 hour
Tickets: $10 – $15
Bookings: Book online at the Cabaret Fringe Festival website or tickets available at the door if not sold out