Declaration is a theatre show from Art with Heart looking at ADHD.  Performed by Sarah Emmott and created with Rachel Moorhouse, it’s been supported through the Lowry’s ‘Developed with’ programme.  The Lowry’s commitment to developing new talent is impressive, and this is just one of the many shows I’ve seen that has benefited (for example Bucket List).  Tonight, unusually, the Lowry studio is set out in the round.

It’s clear that a lot of research has gone into the narrative of this show, and yet it remains an intensely personal experience.  This is a show full of energy and vibrant colour, and performer Sarah Emmott easily commands the space on her own, albeit with a multitude of fascinating props.  There’s good use of a variety of performance techniques, supported by video.  There are also some lovely interludes when she talks to her tech guy about what music to put on next; the informality and personal feel of the show is a huge strength.

The structure itself follows an established path for this type of show.  It starts with the personal, and expands out to look at the topic in a wider sense.  Sarah very effectively creates a bubble in which she puts her own life in context, so that when the theme widens out to the world at large, we feel something missing; something very personal and private has been lost.  It works well, and the symptoms and effects of ADHD come out strongly.

That’s not to say everything works.  The audience interaction was a little unfocused, and seemed out of line with the evening’s theme.  And Sarah starts to touch on the emerging research that there are jobs (particularly tech jobs) where ADHD is a huge advantage, but I would love to have seen this developed further; it is a unique aspect of ADHD compared to most other areas of mental health.

Overall, this is a very well put together show addressing an important issue in a positive way.  The performance is strong, and it’s a show that keeps you engaged for the full hour.

Declaration was at the Lowry Studio on 23 & 24 June 2016.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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