Ruby Wax’s new one-women show may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It may not be everyone’s view of what theatre is, or should be. However, Wax has a captivating way of connecting with people that, I believe, to be very rare. Wax’s command over the audience made her show a pleasure to withhold.
Based on her 2013 number one best selling book, of the same name, Wax, in her own individual style, which oozes intelligence, wit and clarity, takes the audience on a journey through her battle with depression. This has recently led her to graduate from the University of Oxford, with an MA in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy. The show is a combination of neuroscience (do not let that word put you off) and comedic anecdotes about her life, which are cleverly mirrored within the set design by Andrzej Goulding. Goulding’s design was clever and engaging. I often wondered, throughout the production, that if a little person lived inside your brain, this is where they would live. It provided the perfect parallel to Wax’s thought- provoking writing.
Joanna Bowen’s successful direction did not lose any of Wax’s integrity. The way in which Bowen managed to combine theatrical elements as well as natural conversational techniques was a delight to behold. This, combined with Wax’s professionalism as an entertainer, put the audience as ease. This is something that stood out throughout the whole production, its ability to make people laugh and spark their imagination and interest in the concepts that were being explained. This was also wonderfully helped along by two screens at the back of the stage and one slightly smaller screen, which played comical animations to enhance Wax’s storytelling.
Nowadays, it is hard to find shows that actively engage the mind in learning and thinking. The layout of the show reminded me of a University lecture, but the best lecture that everyone wanted to attend…despite whether you studied that subject. It was informative, funny and moving all at the same time. However, it did not feel like you were being bombarded with information. It was the perfect balance to produce the show that, I assume, Wax had envisioned.
The show is touring around the United Kingdom until mid June. I would highly recommend this show, despite what background or viewpoint you have on the world. Even if you are a sufferer of mental illness, or know someone who is, or even want to expand your knowledge and understanding of the subject, this is a wonderful piece of theatre to experience.
Reviewed by Sasha McClintock
Ruby Wax is performing at the St James Theatre until 14 March 2015. Click here for more information and to book tickets.