What: Mental as Everything
Who: Damon Smith and Adam Coad
When: 2nd March – 4th March
Where: Queen’s Theatre at The Lab
How much: $21.75 – $28.00 (see fringe page for full details)
From the dysfunctional yet brilliant minds of Damon Smith and Adam Coad comes the debut of their Cabaret show, Mental as Everything. These astoundingly gifted songwriters and multi-instrumentalists both candidly recount their experience with mental health problems musically and anecdotally. Damon Smith is primarily sat at a grand piano and exhibits his effortless ability, whilst Adam Coad accompanies him on the drums, with shared use of the guitar. Smith frankly shares his struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and bipolar II disorder as well as associated misconceptions and stigma, whilst Coad talks of his anxiety and depression.
Smith and Coad share a warm onstage chemistry, engaging with the audience in a conversational tone, making the atmosphere feel like more of an intimate exchange rather than an outright performance. They perform renditions of classics such as ‘Mad World’ and ‘Hurt’ and original songs which portray a mixture of levity and melancholy. Despite the serious subject matter, the show maintains a light-hearted vibe throughout, with the witty tune ‘When Panic Attacks Attack’ as well as brief appearances of ukulele and kazoo.
Whilst their musical capability and compatibility was obvious, the banter between songs was noticeably unrehearsed and traces of nervousness did come across with the occasional glance at the set list and little mistakes here and there, but that is to be expected from a debut performance. I also question whether the content needed to be restricted to a PG-rating, as a swear word or two can never go amiss when reflecting on painful personal struggles. I strongly believe that the show will greatly improve with more performances as Smith and Coad’s passion shone through, and ultimately, I thoroughly enjoyed the show. I would recommend this to an older audience, to people who have or haven’t experienced poor mental health, to witness this unique and thought-provoking Cabaret.
4 out of 5 stars