As entertaining as a musical about mental health can be, House of Blakewell’s Everything Is Absolutely Fine is well done
“I know what I want
‘Are you sure?'”
There’s something really clever about Everything Is Absolutely Fine and the way it presents the everyday challenges of anxiety. Rather than throwing all the bells, whistles and 11 o’clock numbers of a musical at the show, House of Blakewell (Alice Keedwell – book, Harry Blake – music & lyrics) present something more restrained, almost episodic, as it takes us through the relentless pressure that anxiety can exert over every aspect of one’s life.
So as we meet Alice (played by Keedwell), an occupational therapist who has moved from a big city to a small town in pursuit of a fresh start, we also meet Anxiety (played by Blake) who accompanies her every waking thought, dogging her with self-doubt. Thus the show takes the form of a dialogue between the two as Alice’s determination to break old patterns and get out there is rebuffed at every turn by the negative energy of that nagging voice in her head.
The show is actually a lot more fun than that might seem. A wry sense of of humour is suffused throughout. not least in the martini-dry delivery of Blake’s Anxiety, always quick as a flash with a reason not to do something. And perhaps inevitably, the show shares a little DNA with Rachel Bloom’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend but quite frankly, that’s a brilliant choice to take inspiration from and ultimately sits quite nicely alongside it as its quirky British cousin.
And for all its comedy, there’s a serious appreciation for the different ways in which mental health can suffer – at work, at home, in social situations or alone at night. Director Valentina Ceschi nails this sense of unforgiving reality but also never quite leaves us in the dark, there’s always a modicum of potential somewhere in the air, the suggestion that it doesn’t have to always be this bad even when it feels like there’s no way out.
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