Watching Goldfish Suffocate
Watching Goldfish Suffocate was first produced by Vertigo in 2014, and they have brought it back for this year's Greater Manchester Fringe Festival. This powerful play tells the true story of the worst year of actor David Degiorgio's life, when his long term but untreated depression spirals into psychosis and he is taken into a mental health unit for his own safety.
No holds are barred and no punches pulled in this raw retelling of his breakdown and subsequent treatment. From the dramatic opening through to the analytical final speech, the show is a rollercoaster ride of emotion that the audience is invited to share with Dave.
David Degiorgio is once again outstanding in his portrayal of his own mental health issues at a time when he was at his lowest. The tears he sheds and the emotions he goes through send daggers into every audience member's heart, and while feeling so sorry for what he went through, the eventual. outcome leaves you admiring him as a truly brave man.
All the people around Dave at this time, from family, girlfriend, doctors, fellow patients and even his co-writer Craig Hepworth, are all played by a small ensemble cast of three, Celine Constantinides, Joe Slack and Benjamin Corry. Celine Constantinides especially slips smoothly from character to character and accent to accent with impeccable skill. Joe Slack hss the inenviable task of playing Craig but recreates the inflections and tone of the man himself with aplomb. Benjamin Corry is often there as the voice inside Dave's head. Driving him deeper and deeper into himself with his insidious whispering. The character is pure evil and Corry is suitably threatening and intrusive.
David Degiorgio and Craig Hepworth have written an immesely powerful, disturbing and empathetic play, which Craig Hepworth directs with his usual sure and emotive hand. This isn't an easy show to watch but in bringing the issue of mental health out front it helps raise awareness of what people with mental health issues go through on a daily basis and how we all can be more understanding.
Vertigo have once again written and produced a strong, dramatic piece of theatre. This company never disappoints, whether doing irreverent comedy or dark drama, and this is a show that everyone should see if only so you can help one friend when they need you.
Helen Jones for Canal St Online