*Please note the subjects discussed in this blog post/ book and play may be triggering for some audiences*
The Book That Started It All
Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive is one of my favourite books I’ve read this year. So last week when I was invited down to The Crucible by Sheffield Theatres to see the stage adaptation, I jumped at the chance.*
For those of you that don’t know, Matt Haig is a successful author who has written many novels and also self help/ guide books. Reasons To Stay Alive falls into the latter category. When Matt was 24 he suffered a breakdown in Ibiza during the 90’s party scene. Reasons To Stay Alive follows Matt from his failed suicide attempt, through an intense period of depression and anxiety, and on to his full and enriched life now.
The book, despite the heavy subject, is hilarious, very witty and sarcastic. It is full of funny lists such as “Things I have received more sympathy for than depression” coupled with stories of Matt’s darkest days and also moments he realised things were getting better.
Reasons To Stay Alive: On Stage
I enjoyed the book so much as it is clearly written as Matt’s train of thought, so I was interested to see how that would play out on stage. The Reasons To Stay Alive Play has made it’s debut at The Crucible in the Studio Theatre, an intimate performance space which instantly connects the audience with the story. The small cast of 6, directed by Jonathan Watkins were phenomenal. I felt very engrossed in the story being told in front of me.
I don’t want to give too much else away about the plot, but as it’s in the programme and website it’s not too much of a spoiler, the story is told from both younger and older Matt’s perspective. The show brilliantly describes how depression can impact those with the illness and also those around them.
I think that’s important to mention now. Depression is an illness. It is not a choice, or made up or being over exaggerated, it is a chemical imbalance in the brain which can cause as much pain and suffering as a broken leg or a terminal illness. I think this is something that people sometimes forget. Nobody asks to become depressed, people with depression do not enjoy staying in bed all day or not going to work. It is a crippling situation to be in and and with 1 in 4 of us experiencing a mental health issues in our lifetime, it’s time we tried to understand the impacts.
The play expresses how important a support network is to someone with depression or anxiety. Whether that be a family member, friend or partner. Matt’s family and girlfriend rally round to help him with the smallest of every day tasks- the play shows that patience and a level of understanding is required.
What I loved about the show was how well the cast used the simple set to transport the audience from Ibiza, to Leeds to the local shop to a literary party. The performance was slick and emotive and I think this is just the start for this fantastic adaptation.
Tickets and Dates
I urge anybody who can, to get down to The Crucible before it’s gone, it’s an eye opener but also funny and filled with moments of joy alongside the sorrow.
Reasons To Stay Alive is at The Crucible, Sheffield until 28th September and will then move on to multiple venues including HOME Manchester, York Theatre Royal and Leeds Playhouse.
Sheffield tickets are very limited so be quick!
Have you seen Reasons To Stay Alive? What did you think?
Check out my last blog post here!
*Disclaimer: These tickets were gifted for the press night at The Crucible. All opinions are my own, as always I only share content I enjoy and think you will also like.