Cardiff family lifestyle, arts and culture blog.


Comically Dark and Deeply Honest: Gods & Kings at Sherman Theatre.

It's always an exciting moment when I enter the studio theatre at Sherman, because I truly have no idea what's about to unfold once I take my seat and the performance begins. We were invited along to see Gods & Kings, a one man play written and directed by Paul Whittaker and performed by Robert Bowman.

I immediately liked Robert Bowman as he perused the audience, his eyes twinkling with intrigue, delight and a decent measure of mischievousness. There was something kind in his eyes as he performed, and this made me reach deeper into the story, the story that follows a man on the cusp of making a huge decision; take a pill and live or don't take it and die.

You'd think it would be a pretty straight-forward decision, yet as his life story unfolds we learn that the pill stands for so much more than we could ever realise. With insights into childhood trauma, growing up and away from the local community, to getting high with student flatmates whilst living at university halls in Newport, we get to see what has shaped the man before us.

I really felt I could relate to the elements of education and conditioning in schools, having removed our children nearly two years ago, this felt very poignant to me. The words used by teachers, the boxes children are placed in, it can have a profound effect on the person they become. These elements were well written, sometimes comical and very close to home for me, and I champion this challenge to the education system and how it has shaped anyone unfortunate enough to have been subjected to the dark side of it.

I really think Paul Whittaker is an outstanding writer, he has the perfect balance between dark and light, much like the main character. I love how it delves into mental health with a full heart, from describing how each person's mental illness is all at once classified into sections, yet not one is alike really stood out to me. I could relate to some of the areas described due to my anxiety, yet there were other areas I couldn't understand because I'd never felt that way; it was a truly fascinating journey for me to follow and I feel very passionate about people talking more openly about their mental health issues.

I thought the descriptions of each experience, the interactions between the main character and the world around him were perfectly executed. The set was very well thought out, simple yet in tune with the theme of the play, and I loved the use of light and dark, another reminder of how mental health can fluctuate between the two.

Having known folk who have taken medication to help with mental illness, I can see how the play is tackling the fact that medication can indeed wipe away areas of a person's personality. It's like they become glazed over, they lose their spark, they're almost shell like; empty and hollow. I have actually written about my opinions on medication, and I'm just not a fan. Not hard to see why...

For me, the performance rang true of my experiences and my beliefs, and I think it's a fantastic way to bring attention to mental health. Bowman held my attention throughout, there were times of sadness, times of joy and times of vision and questioning.

Gods & Kings will open your eyes, it will make you laugh and most importantly, it will open up a discussion about mental health, and this will in turn change the world…

Disclosure: I received tickets in exchange for review. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.


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