'It's Hard Enough To Talk About Depression – So Why Not Look At How Tragically Funny It Can Be?'

Keep your demons sweet

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First Fortnight is Ireland’s Mental Health Arts festival which aims to break down the stigma around mental health. Big Bobby. Little Bobby is an Award-winning play which won the First Fortnight Award at Tiger Dublin Fringe and returns this week as part of the festival.

Co-writer and performer Camille Lucy Ross explains why she's taken an unorthodox approach to these issues in the one-woman show, which opens tonight at the Project Arts Centre.

“We all have troubles, we all have demons. Do what you need to do to keep your demons sweet!”

That’s the mantra that Bobby, the heroine of this twisted comedy repeats to herself. I’m inclined to agree with Bobby – but then, I did write the show alongside Kelly Shatter!

I think it’s healthy for us all to acknowledge our troubles and accept our demons. Sadly for Bobby she struggles to accept her demon – Little Bobby. He gains more and more control over her, and she copes by stuffing herself with digestive biscuits and sugary tea in order to literally keep her demon sweet.

At this time of year, maybe a few of us can relate? After all that Christmas stuffing and all those mince pies, have they really solved our deep-seated issues?

As my mother would say: "Happiness is an inside job."

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I decided to tackle it through the medium I know best – theatre – and put all this inner madness onto a stage.

Camille Lucy Ross

But what do you do if your inside world is so chaotic that you have too many voices to keep track of… one tormenting you, another questioning everything you do, another telling you "Eat more pies!" and the result of it all is that you have no idea which one to listen to?

I'd become obsessed with documentaries about multiple (or dissociative) personality disorder – put simply, people who suffer severe trauma in childhood can develop these 'other parts' in order to cope. I thought it was interesting how we all, even without such an extreme condition, have many 'sub personalities' and how we use different aspects of ourselves to cope. Lots of us have the voice of our parents, maybe a younger version of ourselves or that troublesome inner-critic in our heads.

Comedy and mental health awareness are both very dear to me – and they’re both all about truth and connection (not timing!)

So I decided to tackle it through the medium I know best – theatre – and put all this inner madness onto a stage.

It's hard enough to talk about depression, suicide and other dark stuff so why not make it a little easier by looking at how tragically funny it can all be?

Sitting in a room laughing empathetically at the plight of others is totally natural because we use laughter as a way to communicate to others: "Hey, I recognise that, I relate to that, you're not alone and neither am I".

Comedy and mental health awareness are both very dear to me – and they’re both all about truth and connection (not timing!). So we wrote this show hoping to make people laugh, cry, cringe and maybe even warm their hearts!

Why not brush the dust (and pie crumbs!) off and join us?

'Big Bobby. Little Bobby' runs from tonight until January 9 at the Project Arts Centre. Details and tickets are available here.

Written By

Camille Lucy Ross

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