Get Yourself Together

I finally caught up with Josh Coates’ Get Yourself Together as part of Bolton Octagon’s Reveal festival (until 25 June).  And I’m really glad that I did.

This is a nicely structured piece, starting with Josh’s personal story (he is hit by a car and diagnosed with depression on Christmas Eve) and opening out to look first at attitudes to male depression, and then include politics, and support for mental health.  Despite being clearly about Josh, it’s also about the wider issues.  And that’s a good thing as although personal stories are important, it’s the way that the issues connect with our own lives that makes this kind of theatre work.  How would your friends react if you told them you had been diagnosed with depression?  What support should there be?

Drawing on storytelling, stand-up and video, Josh makes good use of both his material, and his ability to change pace and mood.  It’s an effective contemporary style for this performance, and Josh builds a friendly relationship with the audience.  When he turns his back to us we want to ask what is wrong.  The support from the Royal Exchange’s Open Exchange Network in developing this work seems to have been used very effectively.

By its very nature this show attracts people who are sympathetic to the topic, in this case mental health, particularly in men.  Those whom it touches most closely are those who understand why it is such an issue.  But how to interact with those who can’t see why it’s important?   I’d like to think that there must be a knock on effect.  By producing this work, the topic is discussed more, and a greater number of people are drawn into the conversation.  I certainly hope so.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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