Being Frank Reviewed

FDAMH’s mental health drama ‘Being Frank’ provided an emotional journey of learning for audiences at The Macrobert Arts Centre and Behind the Wall during May.

Janet Crawford was with the drama group for their last performance and offers up this view from back and front of stage.

“I came along to see the rehearsal and to catch some of the action and the mood which accompanies such a creative and thought provoking piece as ‘Being Frank’.

“The group have worked on a basis of having some characters portrayed by more than one member, dependant on performances, and this shows the sterling confidence which they display in both the on and off-stage work which they do. Whilst eleven members took to the stage proper, another group attended to stage direction, props, lighting, timing and management, all supported by Emily Stewart, the Arts Coordinator within FDAMH.

“The Drama Group ‘team’, as they certainly show, work well together during rehearsals, sharing their excitement and keeping each other feeling reassured and supported.

“At final checks I can see and hear last minute nerves being soothed by laughter and friendship, as costumes and make-up are completed. The audience start to file in, and the room fills with chatty anticipation, by those keen to support their family and friends by attending this evening.

“The cast assemble on stage and open the performance with some brief individual introductions about themselves, which is very brave as the room is pretty full. The discussion is honest and lays open the issues which the members deal with in their daily lives including Anxiety, Depression, Bullying, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Bipolar, Aspergers and Schizophrenia. The audience listen attentively and you can sense the respect being shown for such openness from the cast.

“Being Frank opens with Frank apparently alone on stage, sitting in his living room, but his ‘black dog’ of depression sits close mocking his very existence, throwing “why does she bother with you?” at Frank as he looks at a picture of his girlfriend. Frank goes on to attempt suicide and the drama deals with the impacts on Frank and the people around him. His friends initially are unsure of what to say to him, he is as uncomfortable with their visits. His parents struggle to deal with his situation and his mother can’t bear the involvement of a mental health professional in her son’s life. However, with support, Frank recovers slowly, but when he ventures out with his friends he is meanly accosted by an acquaintance; his friends beat back the verbal assualt, much to the delight of the audience, who clap and cheer their support.

“Frank’s CPN, tells him again how far he’s come, and then remembers, that FDAMH had asked her to check with him as to whether he’d take the lead in a new play. Frank jumps up and says I could never do that…. But of course he just has…….

“This play does not shrink from examining some of the uncomfortable issues and challenges relating to overcoming a depressive illness and the suicide attempt which Frank made. The cast were very very strong and the audience saw a work which would have stretched their emotions as much as their understanding. The laughter, clapping and cheering certainly echoed the delight of the audience and the drama group members at just how well the evening went”.

29/05/2017 at 11:24 am