TW: This post feature references to mental health and suicide.
Streamed productions saved our sanity while theatres were closed through all of the multiple lockdowns this year and last. While they have taken a back seat over the last month or so as theatres gradually begun to reopen, there are still some trickling out. A fantastic way to reach a wider audience of those who might not be able to visit a theatre in person, I have always argued the merits of them and my hope they would continue in some form even when all theatres are open.
This week sees the first of four streamed shows to be released this month through Seabright Productions. All four were filmed before a socially distanced audience at Wilton's Music Hall last month. First up is the multi award-winning musical 'A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad)'
Written by double Olivier Award winner Jon Brittain. A Super Happy Story... basically teaches us that it's ok not to be ok. This show tells the story of Sally - a happy person full of life who has a secret illness she doesn't realise or acknowledge at first. As her depression takes over, it becomes harder for her to ignore it until it reaches its lowest point where it almost claims her life.
Sally is played wonderfully by Madeleine MacMahon, who embodies the character of Sally, channelling her euphoria and lowest moments. The authenticity in her performance adds to how powerful this piece is, with the pain in her face leading to a hard but compulsive watch. Madeleine is joined by Sophie Clay and Ed Yelland who play a range of characters from Sally's friends, acquaintances and family.
As expected, this can be a tough watch at times, particularly if you can relate to the issues at hand. What sets A Super Happy Story... apart from other shows who have tackled this issue is the unique way it contrasts the story with the tone. The music by Matthew Floyd Jones is where the "Super happy" tone comes in, creating a juxtaposition of the story that is told. While it may be confusing to the senses and deceptive at first with the over the top happy and upbeat opening number, it is a great example of how extreme mood changes can be a factor of mental health - the sharp change in tone providing a great relatability and way of understanding for those who perhaps have never experienced these issues.
If many people were struggling with depression and anxiety before, the pandemic has only gone on to heighten this - many have rightly struggled with the new normal we have all had to face. This makes A Super Happy Story all the more crucial - the message it conveys could help a person in crisis and is another reminder of just why theatre is so important and can even be life-saving.
Extremely well-written and brilliantly performed, A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad) is an important piece of theatre. The understanding that mental health issues are an illness is something that has become more widespread in recent years, but still has a way to go. This show speaking about it in such a clear and relatable way will do wonders for anybody who is struggling for what is going on inside their head.
In summary - this is a super powerful show which carries with it a super important message. Watch it if you can.
A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad) is streaming until July 11th, at selected times from July 1st - 4th and on demand from 5th-11th. Catch it at https://www.stream.theatre/season/160
Later this month, Seabright Productions will stream Black Is The Color of My Voice, FRIEND (The One With Gunther) and Quentin Crisp: Naked Hope all on https://stream.theatre. Look out for reviews of all of those titles here over the coming weeks.