There’s nothing ignoble about confronting depression.
This is what playwright and performer Thomas McKechnie shows us in his short-lived, chaotic show about the days you are far from being OK.
4 ½ (ig)noble truths is based on McKechnie’s own experiences dealing with clinical depression, as well as the stories of people he knows and loves. He demonstrates these realities through a turbulent, physically exhausting performance. As he tears through his set, throws himself on the floor, and speeds through his script we get a glimpse into his mind, and it’s dark, vulnerable and beautiful.
This is something I would have liked to feel more intensely. McKechnie’s performance is physically violent to the point where I feel like it takes away from the opportunity for audience members to truly connect with him in an internal, visceral way. Almost all of us have either experienced depression or know someone who has experienced it, and for this reason, there is such a great opportunity to reach out, touch those people and make them feel like they are not alone.
Instead, the show feels more like an observer piece. We watch McKechnie go through specific situations and everyday interactions such as not being able to answer the question “How are you?” honestly, or feeling anxious about how he will spend his day because there are just so many tasks to complete and not enough time to complete them all.
McKechnie brilliantly reenacts his feelings using a raw egg to represent himself, first in social interactions, then alone in his everyday life. He piles up all his daily burdens on top of this one egg, until the set consists of an egg supporting a smorgasbord mountain of props. The symbolism is striking.
What McKechnie succeeds in is being a transparent voice on a subject that is still so shockingly underrated in our society – a state of being that so many people still don’t understand, or refuse to speak out about.
He ends the show in the most raw and exposed way possible: by planting himself in the audience and asking for comfort.
We need more people like him. And we need more art like this.
Presented by zeitpunktheatre and directed by Michael Reinhart, 4 ½ (ig)noble truths runs at the Scotiabank Studio Theatre at Pia Bouman until Aug. 14. For more information, visit www.summerworks.ca.