Old Red Lion Theatre – until 2 June 2018
Guest reviewer: Francesca Mepham
From the outset of Felicity Huxley-Miners’ new play In The Shadow Of The Mountain, Rob (David Shears) may be on the edge of oblivion, ready to throw himself under a train, but he certainly gets swept up on an unexpected journey, when he meets Ellie (Huxley-Miners).
The chemistry between the two characters is very authentic, it makes you care for these two polar opposites. Ellie is magnetic and witty, but her erratic behaviour starts to unravel in front of the audience’s eyes and Rob is dryly funny and caring, but lost, after a recent betrayal. Ellie’s BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), that is never labelled in this play, is what makes her want to move this relationship along at an alarmingly fast pace. Her pleading to Rob that she “..wants to be saved” is so incredibly poignant and seems to summarise Ellie’s whole being.
Both performances are spot on, with excellent direction by Richard Elson, who gets the balance between both characters expressing their fears and bewilderment (especially with Shear’s Rob), in a thought-provoking way. The actors command the stage throughout, keeping the energy consistent and the story flowing. The taunts and emotional manipulation of Rob, by Ellie, are conveyed very convincingly by Huxley-Miners.
Meticulous research into BPD is evident, as the balance between humour and poignancy is intricate. Nearer to the play’s conclusion, the full extent of Ellie’s condition is handled by cast and director, with a heart-wrenching honesty. In The Shadow Of The Mountain, shows the reality of mental health, on a person’s life and relationships.
Fundamentally this new play is about a couple, conceived in two people’s mental health struggles with BPD and depression, but it is also about what it means to be human and all its fragilities. I look forward to seeing more work produced by Instinct Theatre and Quantum Frolic Theatre, as this outstanding debut collaboration, is a beautifully written and acted piece of theatre.