It's ok not to be ok in Electrolyte, a piece of gig theatre that highlights the issues surrounding mental health. Jonathan Penney reviews:

After her dad’s suicide, things get pretty bleak for Jessie (Olivia Sweeney), as she struggles with everyday life. Now she has had enough of Leeds, taking the plunge to move to London with her friend Allie (Maimuna Memon), in order to find her mum. Life has a habit of not going to plan and Jessie soon finds herself in a battle with her own mind. Supported by her friends, Electrolyte is a piece of gig theatre that tells the story of mental health, grief and depression in the form of spoken poetry.

Upon entering the auditorium, the audience are embraced by a relaxed gig-style room, filled with musicality. The initial concept may seem off-the-wall as the production begins, but the sheer talent that the cast display soon rivals these misconceptions. The gig atmosphere is immediate, a united sound fills the room with an emotive backing track. The band each have their own roles within the story that play a major part in affecting Jessie’s life. Fascinating relationships unfold between the cast, and the actions that each of them take end up indirectly affecting their best friend.

Covering deep and meaningful themes, Electrolyte does a superb job of approaching such difficult topics. The spoken poetry is an imaginative way to tell Jessie’s story while still holding onto the emotional rollercoaster that she encounters. Sweeney effortlessly conveys the effects of her mental state on others, opening up her tough exterior and letting the audience see another side of Jessie.

Electrolyte tells an emotional and thought-provoking story, with exceptional music to further enhance the narrative. The end result is an inspiring and heart-warming performance about the importance of friendships when dealing with mental health. The acting is raw and emotional, which plays out perfectly against the contrast of the poetic language. James Meteyard’s writing concatenates powerful themes, capturing the danger of the struggles one might encounter with mental health issues. Reinforced by Memon’s music & lyrics, the story of Jessie acts as a warning to everyone not to give up on your friends – it is okay not to be okay.

 

 

★★★★☆

Electrolyte runs at Pleasance Dome as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018 until 27 August 2018. For further information, please visit the venue website.