Pros: Excellent songs, use of sound clips and lights make this play stand out. Kane Power is a confident performer who balances the light and shade of the piece.
Cons: As the volume is turned up to 11, the lights are flashing and Kane’s mother leaves upsetting voicemail messages, sensitive viewers may struggle to watch.
Not only that, but he sets everything to his own music, which sits somewhere between Antony and the Johnsons and John Frusciante, using a loop pedal, keyboard and synthesizer. ‘There’s only 10 on the volume, but you hear it at 11’, he explains, as the music gets louder and more frenetic. At times, the volume is almost disturbing; you can feel the music through your whole body, and the multi-part harmonies blend or clash with speech extracts from Kim’s voicemails, the technical specifics of her diagnosis, and reports from her psychiatrist. Some excerpts will leave you choked up, as Kim’s psychosis leads to paranoia. She thinks her son hates her, and her parents want to take Kane away. She believes her sister faked her own death. Descriptions of medication side-effects are upsetting, too, but Power turns them into a rap, describing ‘the order of the mental disorder chemically ordered to order’.
There are some bittersweet laughs, too, as Power doesn’t take himself too seriously. Though the piece depicts Kim’s experience, it’s also about being a carer. As Power says, if 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health issue, then 3 in 4 of us will potentially be carers. He doesn’t know what a ‘normal’ childhood is like, because this was his normality.
Mental is a rich, thorough study of bipolar and caring; a love letter to a mother, driven by Power’s talent for performance. He is a credit to Kim, and I hope she is proud of what he’s achieved.
Authors: Kim Power, Kane Power, Alice Lamb, and Tid
Musical Director: Peter R. Reynolds
Composer and Lyricist: Kane Power
Producer: Hannah Osborne
Box Office: 0131 623 3030
Booking Link: https://www.assemblyfestival.com/whats-on/mental
Booking Until: 27 August 2017