THEATRE AT HOME REVIEW: Electrolyte ★★★★
Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival
Monday 18th - Sunday 24th May 2020
Originally staged at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2018, Wildcard Theatre Company’s production of Electrolyte tells the story of Jessie (Olivia Sweeney), a girl who dreams of a bigger life with brand new friends. One night she meets up-and-coming singer songwriter Allie (Maimuna Memon), who simply takes her breath away, and it’s here where we follow Jessie’s journey for a new life in London, chasing down Allie’s new warehouse converted flat apartment, and dealing with her inner voices and anxieties along the way.
As a piece of gig theatre, Memon not only provides the characterisation of Allie, put also provides the soulful and angelic acoustics to the music & lyrics, which sweep us off our feet and enter a world of flashing lights and feeling the intimacy and close friendship that is so radiant from the company on stage, who all play roles within Jessie’s story. Doubling as the Writer of Electrolyte, and portraying Jim, James Meteyard’s script is thought-provoking and engaging enough that it sets your heart racing in a story that will release frantic and nervous tension to such an enimatic degree in a moment during the latter half of the production when Jessie’s world seemingly begins to crumble around her.
Winner of the 2018 Mental Health Fringe Award, Electrolyte pulsates and normalises the idea of talking about mental health in such a powerful yet subtle way, that the story I do belive will resonate with so many audience members and further open up the discussion in an honest manner; with Jessie being the protagonist and talking through her every emotion, thought, and movement with the audience, we emphasis and care for her as a character and that is solely through the energy from Sweeney, as well as the whole company on stage, which further consists of Ben Simon as Paul, Chris Georgiou as Ralph, and Megan Ashley as Donna, who as their alternating parts truly prove that this piece of theatre is solely about friendship, and helping up those struggling to voice their worries in critical times with a satisfying and understanding comfort.
Director Donnacadh O’Briain furthermore delivers a piece that darts from one location to another with such space from the physical pace on the space that it never truly slips from it’s tracks and allow the company to breath, which only heightens the sense of anxiety that is ridden within this psychotic episode that Jessie endures throughout the whole piece when she is slowly distancing herself from the ones who truly love her the most. Timothy Kelly’s lighting design also adds flare and ambience to the piece with such delight, with some really stand out moments coming into focus during the house party scene in which a deep base from Piotr Dubrowski’s sound design is layered poetically with Kelly’s fizz of beating lights that hum throughout the auditorium with a strobing heart to the story.
Overall, Electrolyte is an emotionally driven, vibrant piece of gig theatre that resonates to a palpable level the importance of Mental Health in our society, and the need to speak up and open our hearts to allow those closest to us to comfort us in such frantic times; in the time that we live in presently, it feels like there is no better way to connect with such a radiant message then catching Electrolyte right now!