Show aims to smile through terrible pain of depression

A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad)
A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad)

An award-winning comedy musical that “throws glitter at depression” is backed by the NHS and two mental health charities.

Yorkshire-based theatre company Silent Uproar wowed crowds and critics alike with A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad) at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe.

The show, which was shortlisted for the Mental Health Foundation’s first-ever Mental Health Fringe Award at Edinburgh, is influenced by the company’s personal experiences and has been informed by people living with mental health problems and medical professionals.

The team spent a year researching for the show, interviewing 50 people living with depression, speaking to psychiatrists, the NHS, mental health nurses, the Mind mental health charity and psychologists.

The cast and crew have also had mental health awareness training from Hull and East Yorkshire Mind, organised by NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group.

In addition to the cast and crew being able to talk to people affected by any of the issues in the show, the company is also arranging for mental healthcare volunteers to be on hand after performances to signpost audience members to help that is available.

Written by Olivier award winner Jon Brittain (Rotterdam, Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho) with music by Matthew Floyd Jones (Frisky and Mannish), the show is described by the producers as “a joyful, buoyant, gleeful, slightly silly, sugar coated, unrelenting and completely super happy show.

“Except for all the bits about depression”.

Alex Mitchell, artistic director of Silent Uproar, said: "We wanted to create something that challenged the notion that depression is just being a bit sad.

“We wanted to create a fun show for people who are living with it, but also for their mate that doesn't really believe that depression is a thing.”

Dan Roper, chair of NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Approximately one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, yet too often people are afraid to talk about their experiences because they fear it will affect their jobs or relationships.

“The arts can be an incredibly powerful way to understand what mental illness is, how it can affect people and, most importantly, that it can affect anyone.

“Simply talking about mental illness can help break down stereotypes and take the taboo out of something that can affect all of us.”

Andrew Eaton-Lewis, arts lead for the Mental Health Foundation, who are supporting the show, added: “The arts are an incredibly powerful way to talk about mental health – to share experiences, tell stories, reduce stigma, and change minds.

“If you can turn a set of challenging and often distressing symptoms into a relatable human story, you can have a huge impact, personally, culturally and sometimes politically.”

The comedic and production style of the show, which won the Fringe First Award and Best Musical Award at Edinburgh, draws from sources as diverse as Scott Pilgrim vs The World, Pixar’s Inside Out, Juno and musicals like Cabaret and Chicago.

A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad) is at The Civic, Barnsley on February 9.