written by Lizzie Buckman

4 stars

A play based around mime and puppetry could be some people’s idea of hell.

However, Headcase was no typical display of mime and puppetry.

A CD player became a monster, a sheet of paper became an aeroplane and mirrors were used in more ways than I can name.

Headcase, devised by Touched Theatre in collaboration with patients of MIND mental health charity, shouldn’t have worked, but it did.

It told the story of Cassie, a teenager with various mental health issues, locked in her bedroom with just her Goldfish (it would seem) for company.

The actors steer the audience through Cassie’s mind as she battles her demons and attempts to make it through the night alive.

It was perhaps a combination of the actors’ skill and the collaboration with MIND patients that allowed Touched Theatre to handle this story with such sensitivity and elegance, avoiding passing judgement and remaining impartial.

The play was largely performed without words, but this by no means detracted from the clarity of the production; large actions and energetic movement pieces allowed the actors to tell the story with emotion and immediacy that perhaps words couldn’t have offered.

Occasionally the actress playing Cassie overdid her facial expressions, but whilst this was at worst comical, most of the time it was justified thanks to its usefulness in conveying meaning.

The technical side of the show was impressive, with voice-overs, projections, films and soundscapes being combined to create an immersive experience and create empathy for Cassie’s confused state of mind.

However whilst all aspects combined beautifully, occasionally the clarity and quality of individual aspects was lost (namely the fact that the voiceovers of the Mum and Dad sounded like they were done by 20 year olds which, let’s face it, they probably were). 

Fun would be the wrong word to describe Headcase, it’s far too demanding on your emotions for that; however I would describe it as inventive, captivating, eye-opening, enthralling, and above all, a must-see.

Based on information supplied by Matt Gleinig.