Depression used to be a taboo subject and even in this more progressive age, carries a stigma which can be difficult to overcome. However, positively, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of theatre productions using mental health problems as their stimulus, raising much needed awareness. These include Freckles and Cuts, a one woman show adapted from the 2014 Julian Battersby Drama Award winning play, The Sad Truth.
Emma Rogerson not only wrote the original piece, but is also the sole performer in the play, delivering a convincing performance as seventeen year old Amber, a high achieving student who after years of relentless bullying and isolation develops depression and begins to self-harm as a result. She holds up thought provoking statements that are so often aimed at sufferers of depression—‘can you not just snap out of it?’; ‘what do you have to be so depressed about?’—and the narrative is at times appropriately uncomfortable, as the audience are invited to experience what Amber went through.
It is impressive that Rogerson has written something so powerful at such a young age but her inexperience shows in parts of the script. For example, does Amber die in the end?; it isn’t quite clear. Furthermore, the story of how she stopped dancing seems unrealistic. As an actress she is solid, but her movement is clumsy and she is clearly not at home moving around the stage, which makes the performance as a whole a little awkward.
Freckles and Cuts is a deeply moving story and Rogerson is clearly a talented writer. With some work on her delivery, this could be a very good show.