REVIEW: Pieces of Me; Burnley Youth Theatre

Mollie Moorby and Maisie Leaver in Pieces of Me. (s)
Mollie Moorby and Maisie Leaver in Pieces of Me. (s)

A cascade of emotions showered down on audiences on Wednesday when Burnley Youth Theatre staged an insightful production.

New amateur-dramatic group, Pieces of Me, created by BYT’s Amber Tither, explored the wide spectrum of emotion surrounding mental illness in a brave new show of the same name.

A fusion of dance, drama, comedy and physical theatre burst on stage, projecting light on difficult feelings and shattering stigmas attached to mental illness.

The show offered a dark and atmospheric opening, never shying away from the brutal truth of emotional pain as it translated fear, anxiety, shame and guilt into movement and spoken word. Mollie Moorby led the way with elegant dancing which captured both the anger and vulnerability felt by sufferers of anxiety, depression and bipolar etc.

It was inspiring to see young performers transform hurt into an uplifting piece of art and thus the cast must be applauded for both their bravery and enthusiasm.

These stars were Holly Clough, Lucy Kelly, Maisie Leaver, Mia LeFebour, Mollie Moorby, Leon Neal, Sophie Parkinson, Karima Shah, Olivia Walsh and Alicia Weston-Ruiz.

Kudos also to director Amber for creating a show which handled its subject matter sensitively and maturely while never backing away from illuminating the vast complexities of mental health.

The creative team rejected traditional structures, namely a character-driven plot. Rather than flowing naturally from scene to scene in a consecutive way, the production jumped back and forth through time and genre, jolting audiences through a series of ideas surrounding mental health.

This cleverly mirrored the feeling of brokenness experienced by sufferers - a splintering of one’s identity into a million shards. It was uplifting to watch the cast transform this terrible feeling into a lovely compound of art, highlighting the beauty in imperfection.

Halfway through the performance was an interjection of comedy in the form of a game show, which remarked with accuracy on society’s dismissive response to mental illness and gently poked fun out of such attitudes.

Connection with others was presented as the antidote to pain as Pieces of Me culminated in a triumphant display of dance to bring it to a strong and hopeful end.

As a sufferer myself with 10 or more years on the performers, I cannot praise them enough for their courage and maturity.

To find out more about the group, please visit www.burnleyyouththeatre.org