The World Wide Web, it can connect millions of people in the time of disaster and help raise money to bolster emergency funds, it can educate, it can reunite families, it can make you wealthy, it can save your life but it can also kill you! Is the Internet now the most powerful thing in the world?
According to the Office For National Statistics in 2016 a staggering 5,668 people committed suicide in the UK. I’m Gonna Jump from Fabricate Theatre in association with MAP Productions and written by Tiffany Bowman follows the story of a teenager who is struggling with her own mental health as she battles to be accepted both in society and online.
This is a powerful, moving and thought provoking piece of theatre that you simply cannot ignore. Simon Naylor has directed the exemplary Stacey Harcourt (Ella) both on stage and in the video clips that punctuate the play.
On a stage littered with computer monitors and blue light a large video screen at the back of the stage shows You Tube videos as you enter the auditorium, most of which are of dogs being tricked by their owners with the disappearing trick that seems to be sweeping the net at the moment. Do the dogs notice? What is their reaction when their owner disappears? Do they care? The message of this play is embedded in your mind before the show starts without you even knowing it.
Opening with a video clip of Ella stood at the top of a tall building she tilts the camera down to show just how high up she is. Within a second Harcourt appears on stage addressing the audience and beginning to tell us of her refused University application and how she chose to keep the news from her friends and family. Was this the catalyst for what was to come?
The use of sound was exceptional during the show, a constant white noise in the background amplifying in unison with Harcourt as her monologues reached crescendos.
I don’t want to delve too much or reveal the content of this show as it just has to be seen to fully appreciate the turmoil and troubles facing Ella. Her failed attempt to meet online friend, the aptly named “Lone Wolf” and the party game that goes wrong all add to the torment endured. At various points throughout the show we return to the video which Ella is taking from up high, a 21st century suicide note.
I need also to congratulate Fabricate Theatre. I will be honest, before Greater Manchester Fringe began this year I was unaware of their work. After seeing Bunny last week and this tonight I am hungry to see more from this young blossoming company. Catherine Lamb and Sophia Nicholson are already making a name for themselves producing work of the very highest quality.
I’m Gonna Jump needs to be on the National Curriculum. If you agree or not by the conclusion of this stunning play, everyone needs to be aware of what people with mental health issues and suicidal tendencies go through, by teaching this at an early age and encouraging people to talk the figure I posted at the start of the review may just be reduced in the years to come.
I’m Gonna Jump which is supported by PAPYRUS continues at 53Two until the 17th July at 7pm each night. www.greatermanchesterfringe.co.uk
Reviewer: Paul Downham
Reviewed: 15th July 2018
North West End Rating: ★★★★★