Ruby Wax’s new show not convincing

A LOT ON HER MIND. Ruby Wax's Out Of Her Mind deals with difficult issues involving mental illness and appropriate responses to it.
Picture: Supplied.

Ruby Wax deserves plenty of respect. Her stage CV includes work with Alan Rickman and Royal Shakespeare Company productions alongside Juliet Stevenson, Zoe Wanamaker and others – and on TV she’s had her own successful shows, as well as being an important part of the team behind Absolutely Fabulous.

Plus she’s a smart, funny lady.

But Out Of Her Mind takes the focus off entertainment and places it squarely on mental illness. Wax has been extensively treated for depression, so the show is partly an exploration of her own experiences and partly a look at society’s response to people who suffer from mental illness.

Act 1 is slick (if not entirely convincing) banter and punchlines, with Wax’s apparent ditziness belying the fact that the show is scripted to the last detail. She offers advice on love and marriage, raises thought-provoking questions around the different ways in which average people respond to disorders of the brain as opposed to physical injuries.

There aren’t as many jokes as expected from someone primarily known as a comedienne, but there’s compensation for that in Wax’s brutal honesty: brazenness can be as entertaining as comedy. To some degree, though, the tight structure of the show removes emotion from those utterances and interval arrives without Wax having quite convinced her audience of exactly what she’s up to.

Act 2 is a problem. The bulk of it is a question and answer session, with assistants handing microphones to audience members who want to ask Wax a question. The result is somewhere between open line time on a talk radio station and a press conference where the interviewers have good intentions but haven’t done enough research.

It’s certainly decent therapy for those in the audience who have experience of the issues that Wax deals with earlier on. But for punters who bought tickets to see a performance, it’s a bit of a let-down.

Out of Her Mind will be playing at Pieter Toerien’s Main Theatre at Montecasino, Fourways until 19 January.

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