Giving birth and becoming a mother are supposed to be some of the most fulfilling and happiest moments of a woman's life. Except when it's not. Postnatal depression (PND) affect 1 in every 7 women who give birth and in Mockingbird, writer and performer Lisa Brickell places PND under the spotlight.
Through comedy, cabaret and mask play, Brickell weaves a tale that follows four generations of women from one family and how PND impacts each woman and the cruel and painful ways that it was treated and the stigma they had to endure. Our protagonist is Tina, a counsellor who is experiencing some anxieties about having children with her partner. Tina begins to share with us the stories of her great grandmother, grandmother and mother and how these events have come to play on her mind with regards to becoming a mother.
Brickell's portrayal of the four women is grounded in physicality and facial expressions. Given the small performance space, Brickell smartly downplays the emotions but not the intensity of these womens' circumstances. Watching a defeated mother give her baby over to the authorities is far more affecting than having her screaming and crying as it is taken away.
While Brickell creates an intelligent narrative that links all the stories, Mockingbird is ultimately let down by its highly simplistic ending where Tina's anxieties over PND are overcome through hugging it out and she receives her happy ending. Given the tone of the show and the dark humour that is prevalent throughout it, opting for a more realistic and less romanticised ending would be far better suited.
Joining Brickell on stage is musician Siri Embla who apart from performing on the piano also shows great talent at providing some of the sound effects for the show. Her energy and comedy timing when she plays some of the smaller characters in the show is nicely matched to Brickell's.
In the early to mid 1900s, PND - or melancholia as it was most commonly known as - was often treated with electroconvulsive therapy. Today, there are many alternative treatments for PND and depression, but many people still feel unable to talk about it. With some revisions to its ending, Mockingbird has the potential to open up these conversations and give people the confidence to seek help and to no longer suffer alone.
Mockingbird was performed at The Butterfly Club between 18 - 20 October 2018.