The format of this show was simple, Ruby Wax told her story and Judith Owen supplied the accompanying songs and music; but this wasn’t Ruby Wax talking and then stopping for one of Judith Owen’s songs. Almost seamlessly, the two women slipped between Ruby Wax’s monologue and Judith Owen’s songs, both perfectly complimenting each other.
The theme is Ruby Wax’s experience of depression. Not just what happened to her when she had a mental breakdown but what lead up to this. It was an almost cautionary tale of the damage that fame can do to someone, especially when fame starts to slip away from someone who was once on the top of it all. Her view of fame is unflattering, especially the things she tried to do to keep that fame (She described it as addictive as Crack Cocaine), also her account of the little she had to do when she was famous was also unnerving.
Her description of her breakdown was all too real, the sudden stop in her hectic activity then fall into a deep and unmoving depression. Her depression was a real depression, not the kind so often portrayed in fiction, which is no more than feeling a little blue or down. Her depression robbed her of energy, her personality and her desire to do anything.
Fortunately this show portrayed depression in all its reality. This wasn’t a show were Ruby Wax turned her mental problems into a tragedy on the lines of “poor little me, how terrible it was”, or a “look how funny mad people can be”; neither was this a new-age-spiritual-journey whereby she becomes a “better” person because she fought depression. This is an uncomfortable but unsentimental look at one woman’s experience of depression.
Ruby Wax has a very engaging and animated stage presence, her energy levels during the show pushed it forward in a way that held your attention, yet when she was slowed down by depression it was almost heart-breaking. Judith Owen’s songs were a perfect addiction to Ruby Wax’s monologue, not drawing away from it, and delivered in a clear and soul voice.
The moment telling moments came in the Q&A session after the show. Ruby Wax was asked did coming through depression make her a better person, she flatly replied “No”. I wanted to cheer with relief. So often people will talk about how depression can make someone more caring, compassionate or whatever, ignoring the pain and suffering that mental illness leaves in its wake. I was so grateful for her honesty.
Hopefully people will come to see this show because of Ruby Wax’s fame but I hope they’ll leave with a better understanding of what depression actually means, Ruby Wax is certainly able to deliver that.
More details on Losing It can be found at these websites: