Trouble In Mind (FringeTIX)
Scrambled Prince Theatre Company @ Holden Street Theatres (The Arch)
10:00pm, Wed 21 Mar 2007
Just before leaving home for the day, I mentioned to my SO – a former psychiatric nurse – that I was seeing a show based on a psych hospital. “Watch out,” she warned, “the nurses are all crazier than the patients.”
Essentially just a collection of psych-hospital vignettes (with a love story tossed in for good measure), Trouble In Mind has little in the way of plot. Initially, we think that we’re going to be following the trials and tribulations of Student Nurse Sarah’s first days on the job, experiencing the inside of a psych hospital for the first time, but that thread soon falls by the wayside in favour of the aforementioned love story. There’s wacky asides to the patients, some philosophical meanderings with angelic plumbers, and plenty of bumps and inconsistencies.
There’s a few problems with Trouble In Mind, the most glaring of which is the (perhaps necessary) cast recycling, with most actors playing multiple roles. That’s all very well and good, but with a few notable exceptions (Brydie Draffin-Taylor’s dull Sarah is a stark contrast against the wonderful pouty scowl of Tiffany) the actors are too overt, too obvious, and require a fair suspension of disbelief from the audience.
The other major problem is the young cast. Whilst some characters come across well – the Owen Wilson-esque plumber of Scolaighe Morrison is great, Cassie Ewing’s pill-dropping patient is gorgeous, and Paul William’s psychotic Bob simply owns the stage – other characters fare badly. Shamira Armstrong just looks too young to be in University – let alone a psychiatrist – and, as the female in the clumsy love sub-story, is too weak to lend any credibility to the character. Smashing breasts, though.
But, in the end, I’m not sure whether any of that matters; believability and credibility can safely be ignored when actors play for laughs, as they do here. And, by and large, it works pretty well – maybe the dumb plumber is too dumb, and maybe the love story is too twee, and maybe the fact that there was nothing on the clipboards that the nurses wrote on annoyed me too much, but them’s the breaks.
In short, this show was about par for the course when it comes to a young company presenting a performance at the Fringe. No real depth, a fair few smirks, requiring a fair bit of imagination from the audience, and criminally under-attended. Watch out for that Paul Williams chap, though – great things are destined for him.