Losing it by Ruby Wax and Judith Owen – Duchess Theatre – Review

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Ruby Wax and Judith Owen

A stand-up show? Informative lecture? Chance to hear a few songs? Communal event and discussion on mental health? Stigma breaking movement? I’m not sure how to describe Losing It, but all of those would in one way or another.

In act 1 Ruby and Judith treat us to a hilarious and poignant collection of jokes and music relating to their experiences of depression and various mental health issues. The jokes and observations come thick and fast and Ruby’s excellent impression of the English was a surprise as she changes from brash American to genteel, “would you like a nice cup of tea” English lady. Her guide to marriage is certainly one of the best parts of Act 1 as she tells us all how it really is. Interspersed¬†with snippets of music from Judith Owen this act works well, but I would have preferred Judith to have had more of a chance to sing full songs rather than snippets as her sultry voice and clever lyrics need hearing.

As Ruby points out repeatedly the problem with all our existences is “There is no manual” and that we’re all trying to make the best of it that we can. She shows how depression is no respecter of career, fame, money, being in the developed or developing world. This illness (for that is what it is) needs greater understanding by us the general public and also within the actual medical profession.

Act 2 is one of the strangest experiences I’ve had a in a theatre. It was a question and answer session all about mental health. This was more serious but there were a few funny bits from Ruby and Judith. This really was theatre acting as an arena for transformation. We shared, listened and learnt. The evening was finished with Judith playing a beautiful song “Tell Me” in its entirety, a lovely ending to this heartfelt act.

They toured the show around 80 NHS mental institutes before taking it the Menier Chocolate factory and then the West End. It will shortly be touring Universities in the UK. It’s so important we address this issue of mental health and loose the taboos and stigma attached to it. I salute both Ruby and Judith for taking on this crusade and I know that those that come to see this show will leave with a better understanding of what it’s like to suffer from a mental health illness. Their openness and honesty about their illness is powerful.

So while this was a “fun” evening, it also has a more serious undertone but one that needs to be addressed and brought out to the light.

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