Greenside, Infirmary Street
Until 19th August (6:40pm)
Cognitions gives us a window into the world of Joanne (Charli Corrigan), and her daughter Niamh (Isabelle Kabban), who is preparing to leave for university. Joanne has bipolar disorder, and her faulty cognitions, brought to life by physical performance and dance, impact her ability to process change. Although the play encapsulates a short time period, it tells us so much more about the relationship, and the difficulties for a family living with bipolar, especially during periods of change.
The script is newly written by Isabelle Kabban, and is a very personal one. At times it felt painfully real. There were strong performances across the board, but the standout for me was the subtle and uncensored rendering of Joanne (Charli Corrigan). The Cogs (Sara Halvorsen, Katelyn Kennedy, Ruth Phillips) whir and move about the stage in a really innovative and effective representation of what mental illness feels like, and how it can impact upon perceptions. Mental health has been a popular subject at this year’s festival, but I’m not aware of another show with this bold choice of representation – and it really works. The Cogs are immaculately synchronised and perform with immense energy and expression throughout the performance. Particularly effective are the segment where they become bubble-wrap, and the manic energy of a scene where Joanne decides to paint.
Details of manic phases are beautifully evoked with the simplest statements in the script, such as ‘I need to keep moving so it will stay.’ Some of the more argumentative scenes are incredibly uncomfortable to watch. It is a strong choice to portray the anger from both sides, but absolutely essential to convey the story, and a real testament to the strength of the writing, and the cast. Childhood was evoked in beautifully choreographed movement pieces. For me, the dance segment in the middle was just a little too long, but overall the show was well balanced and engaging.
I look forward to seeing what this company do next.
Cognitions has finished it’s Fringe run, but further details about the production can be found here.