Writer and performer Thomas McKechnie presents 4 1/2 (ig)noble truths at the 2016 SummerWorks Festival — an intense, incredibly manic, physical, chaotic, cacophonous, fast and delirious one man show on the causes of clinical depression, the effects on the sufferer, and how to cope. This performance speaks to those days when a frontal lobotomy sounds more appealing than getting out of bed, and to those times when basic social interactions is excruciating and unusual torture. It also speaks to those with loved ones who have experienced the same. Just watch your head.
McKechnie dives head first into the various areas in life where depression hits the hardest, in social interactions where the need to communicate with anyone outside of his own head is a difficult challenge and where the basic question of “how are you?” is the most difficult to answer. Life responsibilities, because work needs to be done, bills need to be paid, the house requires cleaning, books require reading, cigarettes need smoking and there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done. And it goes on from there.
The beauty of this performance is how McKechnie is able to vocalize in a rapidly paced, disjointed narrative what he physically feels and what goes on in his head when faced with these overwhelming situations in the throes of depression. I’ve suffered my own bouts of depression in the past, as many have, but I don’t think I’ve ever experienced it to the degree that he has, and that many people I’ve loved and cared about have. Often times, I’ve felt hurt and shunned when they’ve pushed me away in their depression. Their responses have usually amounted to ‘it’s not you, it’s me, but I can’t put into words how I feel.’ In 4 1/2 (ig)noble truths, McKechnie has given voice to those dark times with loud, resounding clarity.
4 1/2 (ig)noble truths requires a very physical and demanding performance. McKechnie literally puts himself through the ringer for this show — from throwing himself onto the floor multiple times in quick succession to repeatedly dunking his head in a bucket of water, once long enough to make me worry — and for that alone, I applaud him. He also has a large array of props on stage with him and yes, they all come into play at some point. I loved his use of raw eggs to demonstrate social interactions and how he paused to deal with the inevitable things that eggs tend to do on a table: roll. I loved how he chose to pile all the various components up around the small representation of himself. The metaphors here are ingenious, and I have to give a nod to director Michael Reinhart for the wonderful execution.
Props get broken and shrapnel goes flying, so do watch your head to avoid being hit. There is also a moment when McKechnie walks into the audience and asks for a moment of platonic intimacy and comfort. Cause sometimes you just need it, and that’s ok. 4 1/2 (ig)noble truths is an eye-opening performance that you need to see during this year’s SummerWorks Festival.
4 1/2 (ig)noble truths plays at the Scotiabank Studio Theatre, Pia Bouman (6 Noble St.)
- Sunday August 7th 7:45 PM – 8:45 PM
- Wednesday August 10th 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
- Sunday August 14th 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Youth Series tickets are $10, Live Art Series ticket prices vary. Tickets are available online at http://summerworks.ca, by phone at 416-320-5779 and in person at the SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst St). Open August 2-14 from 10am-7pm. Cash and credit accepted.
Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows.
Audience advisory: Performance contains mature language, cigarette smoking, loud music, and depictions of violence.
Photo provided by the company