Review of Cancel the Sunshine • The Play

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Cancel the Sunshine 

A play Chantelle Dusette

Writer Chantelle Dusette’s bold play Cancel the Sunshine is an auto biographical piece about a woman’s struggle with her mental health. Chantelle found that writing was a great coping mechanism for her own anxiety and depression. This is why, undoubtedly the play and this production has a huge heart that is palpable.

Cancel the Sunshine sheds the light on the little talked about topic of Mental Health illness. But from the perspective of ‘HER’, one woman… played by Maya Thomas. It explores the quagmire that is her mind and her perpetual cycle of escapism, self medication and avoidance. What makes this a really important play? It begs the question: Do we as a society push those with Mental Health issues into a closet?

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Maya Thomas

“Monday morning. I survived the weekend.”
A woman is gripped inside a vortex of her varying states of mind.

This incredible piece of Theatre sure packs a punch for it’s one hour length. We as an audience are taken on a journey through the fractious thoughts and feelings of this “oh so together” London Chick, as she battles her way through life…. The ever present conflict with the self she presents to the world and her inner self.

As the play begins you are somewhat lulled into thinking it is going to be something entirely different, or at least I did. An account of a woman grappling with complicated London life“work,work, work, work, repeat”… Only to discover she is suffering from a Mental illness, one that grips and spirals. She recognises something is wrong “I need to see someone” ,but is met (from friends and family) with “you’re fine, you’re fine, you’re just down, everybody gets down!”

Honest, raw, and with sharply observed humour, this is an account of the woman’s struggle with her painful past, inadequate present, and her un- quenched desire to find happiness whilst living with a mental illness.

This uncompromising piece, pays great attention to detail on every level. From the set, of a bedroom, her shelter, cleverly designed by Scott Le Crass. Who also remarkably directed this piece. Le Crass’s direction implores great care, creativity and precision. The intimate space of The Hope Theatre lent itself to quite a unique feeling of being totally absorbed in her world. The sounds of London, the Police Sirens, traffic the hustle and bustle from outside adding to the already atmospherically designed soundscape by Kirsty Gilmore.

There isn’t one modicum of the superfluous in this production. But instead a vibrant, fast paced piece that comes to life through frank, witty storytelling. A truly immersive experience that you as the audience are privy to.  One that rather mimics the mental ill health itself….relentless. By that I mean, unless dealt with, Mental illness doesn’t leave the sufferer, regardless of what public face they display. I became completely involved and invested in her journey. I was swept along and the hour went in a flash!

Maya Thomas’s heartfelt, passionate, beautifully judged performance really captivates you. Thomas who stands alone, paints so vividly other characters she encounters. Right from the off you are drawn in. She gives an intelligent yet guttural portrayal of “her” with versatility and technique . A performance that is only fitting for a such beautifully crafted, honest and sometimes incredibly poetic play.

As I left the theatre, there were phrases from Cancel the Sunshine that rang through my head. “Pills that make you sad, Pills that make you mental, Pills that make you mad” As I sat on the tube, I studied peoples faces. It posed a another question. Who around me is suffering in silence? The thing is, a lot of the time one will never know. “Her” the character, could be you or me or ‘her’ next door, anyone … This play is certainly thought provoking. It stayed with me long after I left. I learnt a lot and gained great incite into the illness itself. In answer to my question about societies view on Mental Health… I think we do as a society push people with Mental illness into the closet. Leaving the person unable to speak out…but to suffer in silence…

This production aims to give a voice to those muted, those who need to be heard. This fantastic hard hitting play about mental health is brought to you by Fount Productions: Their aim is to:Create, Challenge and Change. To create innovative pieces of work that illuminate and captivate people’s imaginations – challenge both stagnant and contemporary ideals –change perceptions and widen points of view. Telling stories that need to be told.”  With Cancel the Sunshine this is most definitely achievedApart from being a regular contributor to Those London Chicks, Chantelle Dusette’s previous work includes The Beloved at The Drayton Arms Theatre, 2014.

The show supports the Amy Winehouse Foundation.

If there is one piece of Theatre you see this year…please make it Cancel the Sunshine, you won’t regret it!

Take a look at the Teaser

CANCEL THE SUNSHINE

Details of where you can see it!

The Hope Theatre 207 Upper Street London N1 1RL

15 Mar – 2 Apr 2016 Tues – Sat 7.45pm Tickets £14 & £12 concs

Box Office: 0333 666 3366

www.thehopetheatre.com

Twitter: @TheHopeTheatre Facebook: thehopetheatre

www.fountproductions.com

Twitter:@CancelTheSun