Hannah and Harvey
Young people's theatre
Mental illness isn’t something you see on the stage very often, and certainly not in a show aimed at children. But given that one in four of us will experience it at some point in our lives, we’re as well to find out about it sooner rather than later.
Created by Reeling + Writhing Theatre Company, Hannah and Harvey doesn’t pull any punches, but neither does it steam in heavy handed. The much ignored, but very real, subject of teenage depression is handled imaginatively and with a large dose of metaphor – some of which will be lost on younger audience members. Hannah can’t communicate her unhappiness to her father; he can’t cross the generational divide to understand her. Instead, they speak through Hannah’s artwork and a 7ft imaginary (although we can see her) rabbit called Harvey.
Although on the surface, the storyline appears dark and troublesome, this is really a tale of hope. Hannah’s anxiety attacks lead to an amusing boxing match, in which she squares up to her darker side – and wins. All the while, Paul Rissman’s superb original score drives the work along and the bright, colourful images created by illustrator, Helen Nunn (the real life inspiration for Hannah) are projected onto the stage in a show of beautiful theatricality.
Aimed at ages 10+ the darker elements of Hannah and Harvey may prove unsettling for some, but are worth the journey not least for the post-show conversations it will hopefully spark between parent and child.
Paisley Arts Centre, Thu 6 Nov; Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Tue 11–Sat 15 Nov