Caroline Horton begins her new show by saying sorry. This is not the show she’d hoped to make. During its creation she became unwell with depression and this has influenced the shape of the show as well as the process of its making.
She also apologises, albeit sardonically, for making yet another show about mental illness, but just as with her 2013 show Mess, which drew on her personal experience of anorexia, she’s found a way of making vivid what it is to continue living when death seems like a release.
All of Me is a disquieting and formally bold piece that encapsulates the cyclical nature of depression. Horton draws on mythic imagery. She describes a journey down into a void that’s reminiscent of the Orpheus story.
From its stark beginnings, Alex Swift’s production builds in intensity and sonic complexity. Horton uses a loop pedal to create a cacophonous soundscape. She sings melancholy songs.
She bares her breasts and dons a feathered headdress to become a kind of terrifying Persephone figure. She’s quite something to behold, simultaneously fearsome and wonderful, as she roams around Eleanor Field’s cluttered set of lamps, scaffolding poles and bags of sand, left over we’re told from an earlier version of the show.
The results are overwhelming. There’s no easy resolutions here, no hand-holding. The show is bleak and unforgiving, raw and roaring.
Rather than making a show “about depression” Horton has instead captured the essence of place she’s been to and knows she will eventually, inevitably return.