Comically Dark and Deeply Honest: Gods & Kings at Sherman Theatre.

It’s
always an exciting moment when I enter the studio theatre at Sherman,
because I truly have no idea what’s about to unfold once I take my
seat and the performance begins. We were invited along to see Gods &
Kings, a one man play written and directed by Paul Whittaker and
performed by Robert Bowman.

I
immediately liked Robert Bowman as he perused the audience, his eyes
twinkling with intrigue, delight and a decent measure of
mischievousness. There was something kind in his eyes as he
performed, and this made me reach deeper into the story, the story
that follows a man on the cusp of making a huge decision; take a pill
and live or don’t take it and die.

You’d
think it would be a pretty straight-forward decision, yet as his life
story unfolds we learn that the pill stands for so much more than we
could ever realise. With insights into childhood trauma, growing up
and away from the local community, to getting high with student
flatmates whilst living at university halls in Newport, we get to see
what has shaped the man before us.
I
really felt I could relate to the elements of education and
conditioning in schools, having removed our children nearly two years
ago, this felt very poignant to me. The words used by teachers, the
boxes children are placed in, it can have a profound effect on the
person they become. These elements were well written, sometimes
comical and very close to home for me, and I champion this challenge
to the education system and how it has shaped anyone unfortunate
enough to have been subjected to the dark side of it.
I
really think Paul Whittaker is an outstanding writer, he has the
perfect balance between dark and light, much like the main character.
I love how it delves into mental health with a full heart, from
describing how each person’s mental illness is all at once classified
into sections, yet not one is alike really stood out to me. I could
relate to some of the areas described due to my anxiety, yet there
were other areas I couldn’t understand because I’d never felt that
way; it was a truly fascinating journey for me to follow and I feel
very passionate about people talking more openly about their mental
health issues.
I
thought the descriptions of each experience, the interactions between
the main character and the world around him were perfectly executed.
The set was very well thought out, simple yet in tune with the theme
of the play, and I loved the use of light and dark, another reminder
of how mental health can fluctuate between the two.
Having
known folk who have taken medication to help with mental illness, I
can see how the play is tackling the fact that medication can indeed
wipe away areas of a person’s personality. It’s like they become
glazed over, they lose their spark, they’re almost shell like; empty
and hollow. I have actually written about my
opinions
on medication, and I’m just not a fan. Not hard to see
why…
For
me, the performance rang true of my experiences and my beliefs, and I
think it’s a fantastic way to bring attention to mental health.
Bowman held my attention throughout, there were times of sadness,
times of joy and times of vision and questioning.
Gods
& Kings will open your eyes, it will make you laugh and most
importantly, it will open up a discussion about mental health, and
this will in turn change the world…
Disclosure:
I received tickets in exchange for review. All opinions are 100%
honest and my own.
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