Life is No Laughing Matter opens with performer and creator Demi Nandhra listing common (and contradictory) things known about depression. She then moves on to weave together her personal story of it, along with reflections on the structural and societal dynamics contributing to its existence.
The greatest strength of this show for anyone watching with first-hand experience of depression, or knows someone who does, is its inherent relate-ability. Nandhra’s recounts of accessing mental health care, from first trips to the GP to complete numerical scale-based questionnaires to trying out suggested ‘cures’ such as eating more bananas or getting a dog, will be achingly familiar to many in the audience.
Nandhra is an inherently likeable performer. At points she’s funny – despite the overriding serious nature of the piece – and there’s a vital honesty conveyed through her delivery and narrative inviting other people to be similarly unafraid to tell their story. Her refusal to come down on one interpretation of depression is also refreshing.
Yet as a show it’s currently quite slight and over-reliant on expository direct address to make its points. The more theatrical, imagery-based segments are always secondary to the much stronger TED talk-like monologues.