The Worry Monster dramatizes the struggles of Raymond, a recently-divorced painter who no longer paints, and the ever-present companion who is slowly taking over his life. One of Raymond’s childhood drawings come to life, the Worry Monster embodies the anxiety that Raymond cannot banish.
As the title character, Jodie Chun doesn’t look particularly frightening; the bright purple balloons stuck to her back give her the appearance of an alien hedgehog. However, over a sharp and hilarious hour, she demonstrates her hold over Raymond. The relationship between the two is perfectly judged: the monster is both bullying and desperately needy, parasitic yet pathetic.
As well as presenting a cartoonish personification of anxiety, Aireborne Theatre Leeds lighten what could be a solemn tale with exciting, innovative staging: cardboard props and puppets give a sense of childlike fun that contrasts well with the show’s themes. Madeleine Gray is brilliant as Rupert’s mother, hilarious and poignant, and has some truly wonderful knitwear. Dialogue is lively, and the use of a narrator helps provide a sense of structure.
At times this is needed—the plot seems slightly formless, with the middle section dragging on for ages before being tied up into a rather abrupt and perhaps too positive ending. However, entertaining and well-staged scenes make this issue less noticeable. Representing the everyday struggle of having anxiety in a novel way, The Worry Monster is a creative and charming look at mental illness and the power of the imagination.