MENTAL health issues are the theme of In The Shadow Of The Mountain, a play written by multi-talented Felicity Huxley-Miners.
It is centred on a quick fire relationship between Ellie and Rob, two individuals who we soon realise both have big problems of their own. Rob (David Shears) has been betrayed by his girlfriend (who has slept with his best mate) and is contemplating ending it all under a train. Ellie (Felicity Huxley-Miners) ‘saves’ him and a relationship is formed.
Before we have time to blink, they are in Ellie’s bed consummating their new found bond. Rob, all masculine body hair. Ellie, attractive and slim as a toothpick. Rob can’t quite believe his luck. His body hair stands on end in response.
But it is quite obvious that things are not quite right. Slowly but surely, we realise that it is Ellie who has the biggest issues – and that she is suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder.
She quickly unveils herself as something of a Jekyll and Hyde character. One moment, sweetness personified, the next accusing a rather feeble Rob of ‘dick and dash’. Like Rob, she has been let down in the past (her fiancé was sleeping with her sister) but it does not make her any the more understanding. Hot and cold. Loving and hostile in two breaths.
As the relationship enters its second week, Ellie believes it is of great significance – a week is only ‘like a cheap shag’ she declares. She then describes their sex as ‘all right’.
Rob is constantly walking on egg shells with every other one of his Geordie words being misinterpreted by a highly strung Ellie. ‘Do you love me?’ ‘I need more than love.’ ‘Do you want to spend the rest of our lives together?’ On and on Ellie goes, at a speed greater than the train that Rob now wishes he had jumped in front of.
It is no surprise when the relationship, three weeks young, fractures amid a flood of lies – one of them too outrageous to believe – and physical violence. The play ends a year later when the two of them meet up again, post therapy, in more serene circumstances.
In The Shadow Of The Mountain is a brave play that highlights key issues about mental health issues (charity Mind has lent its support to the production). The set design (Emily Megson) is simple but effective, a nice touch being the house plants drawn on the walls. And at 70 minutes, the play – directed by Richard Elson – also moves along at a rapid pace, reinforcing the brevity of Rob’s and Ellie’s relationship.
Yet it leaves the viewer feeling little empathy for either of the characters. Rob comes across as a little naive while Ellie, the one in desperate need of help, behaves so horribly that you end up balking at her behaviour rather than engendering any sympathy towards her.
An interesting piece of work from Huxley-Miners who has a great future ahead of her – either as an actor, writer or both.
In The Shadow Of The Mountain runs until June 2.