REVIEW: One in Five; The Little Theatre

In a poignantly honest yet uplifting show at Colne's Little Theatre last Friday, four actors highlighted the agony of mental illness in young people.

The cast of One in Five revealing on stage their own battles with mental illness. (s)
The cast of One in Five revealing on stage their own battles with mental illness. (s)

One in Five is an original piece by Spectacle Arts which challenges the stigma around mental disorders and inspires sufferers to reach out for help.

Funded by the NHS, it was written for performances in every school across Burnley, Rossendale and Pendle.

Directors Adam Calvert and Katie Fry took audiences on a non-linear journey through real-life tales of mental illness, combining story-telling with artistic physical theatre for a potently dynamic show.

They expertly interlaced physical theatre with recordings of real-life accounts of depression and anxiety to bring a wide spectrum of difficult emotions and invisible symptoms into a tangible form.

It was a powerful way to evoke understanding and empathy from the audience and it was this artistic approach to the subject which I believe will be truly effective in inspiring young people to fight for support.

Rather than focusing on one character’s journey to recovery, One in Five delivered a breadth of painful experiences, allowing more young people to recognise aspects of the performance in themselves.

But it was also remarkable in highlighting the brutal complexities of mental illness and the chaotic and confusing ways in which it arises.

The fluidity of the script – created by actors Katie Rose Wlodarczyk, Elouise Drummond, Laura Masters and Matthew Warren – made for a sincere production, as did the live score by musical director Jack Herbert.


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Jack’s score also changes with every performance to fit with the audience’s mood and reactions, making for an emotionally authentic production, which reflects the disordered manifestations of mental illness.

The cast must be applauded for showing wonderful range when delivering confident, strong and sensitive performances on a particularly difficult topic.

But most inspiring of all were their brave revelations of their own battles.

This spontaneous aspect of the show was at once utterly heart-breaking yet beautifully elevating and was the perfect way to bring audience and performers together in a united front against stigma.