We all know self-help books have become a huge part of the mental health landscape in recent years. Well here’s a show that explores their effect along with the struggle of asking for help.
A feel-good show about feeling bad. Talking about feelings is hard. So why not avoid doing it, pretend everything’s hunky dory and buy a self-help book instead? The only catch is that this one talks back… Seven Ways to Calm the F**k Down is an eight-strong, high-energy production featuring anxiety, a guy who can’t talk about it and the self-help book that can’t shut up about it.
The lead character, Danny, struggles with anxiety in his final year of university – it’s a not too uncommon tale these days but this time told through his eyes and his conversations with a talking self-help book.
This is a piece of theatre that has it all. Comedic (we all love a good Abba singalong) with a serious message and a fantastic structure that includes superb ensemble work through physical theatre. The sound was one of the best I’ve heard at the Fringe and mixed well with the voiceovers of the self-help book.
James Porter’s portrayal of living with the condition is exemplary. The moments where he is experiencing panic are shown with great precision and accurately depict the suffocating feeling of the world ending around you. It is hard-hitting and close to home for a sufferer like me, but also translates to those without direct experience which is an incredible achievement.
This incredibly sensitive and well-presented piece perfectly presents the experience of having anxiety while also proving that care and recovery is a long road that requires personalised support. Well-crafted, thoughtful and insightful, with a leading man perfectly skilled to tell the story.
Seven Ways to Calm the F**k Down is at the Olive Theatre at Greenside @ Infirmary Street as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival until 27 August. Tickets available online.
My Edinburgh trip was supported by the Network of Independent Critics! Find out more about their work here.