Excellent, moving adaptation at Sheffield Crucible of Matt Haig’s best-seller Reasons to Stay Alive
Matt Haig’s best-selling book about his fight to overcome terrifying depression has been cleverly and sensitively adapted for the stage by director Jonathan Watkins and writer April De Angelis.
Mike Noble plays the younger Matt, hit at 24 by a breakdown and panic attacks so severe that he makes you feel the pain and anxiety. At his lowest ebb, his older self (Phil Cheadle) begins to appear to him, to help coach him back to life.
The chemistry between the two is excellent and they convincingly play the same person without mirroring each other’s performances.
Janet Etuk is wonderful as his partner Andrea, showing the worry and pain and underlying love that keep her by his side.
The supporting cast of Chris Donnelly and Connie Walker as Matt’s parents and Dilek Rose in three roles hit the same notes as their colleagues exceptionally well.
The extensive use of movement, employing Simon Daw’s versatile set, adds more layers of interest and emotion to a piece of taut yet entertaining theatre. Like the book, its important messages include that time does heal if you can learn ways to cope.
Reasons to Stay Alive has its world premiere at the Crucible Studio where it runs to September 28. The co-production between Sheffield Theatres and English Touring Theatre then goes on a national tour until November 16. More details at ett.org.uk