'Headcase' – Touched Theatre
Touched Theatre is a puppetry company that always seems to have something new to bring to the table. Their show 'Headcase' has been doing the rounds in Brighton and London, and stopped off in Kingston for one night only in July. Developed with young people with mental health issues and in association with MIND, they’ve created an affecting hour of dance and puppetry.
We are in Cassie's bedroom. She has a fish, which circles its tank as the rain pours outside. Gradually we delve deeper into Cassie's mind, to find out what is really going on inside her head. Set entirely in one room, every part of the set is used for performance. The bed is turned on its side as a play board, the mirrors reflect and conceal, and there's a splendid bit with a CD player that I won't ruin for you. This is object theatre that embraces and abuses form and functionality.
Cassie is played brilliantly by the super talented Yael Karavan, although her perfection takes some of the reality away from the performance. She comes into her room, dancing along to music on her headphones, as countless teenagers have done. But the way she moves is just too good, too clean – we can already see that she's a dancer. Later, her contemporary dance performance is visceral and incredibly moving, but the element of surprise is lost because of her earlier movements.
Both Yael Karavan and fish-performer Annie Brooks provide substantial yet delicate performances, on a topic that is always difficult to discuss. With very little speech, they convey a heartfelt and sincere message about mental illness, without patronising or generalising. It is as resonant with those who have suffered with mental illness as it is with those who haven't, and speaks to audiences with honesty and humour.
'Headcase' was made in collaboration with young people who use MIND’s mental health services.