Dark Heart is a new musical by Jessica Avellino, set inside the mind of a teenage girl suffering from debilitating survivor guilt following the accidental death of her sister. It’s presented by the New York based Infinity Repertory Theatre, a company made up entirely of young people who train in all the elements of production and have creative control over the work produced.
As the show begins, the chorus of young people don school uniforms. They are equally aspects of the central character Emma’s personality, and memories of her school friends. The memory of Emma’s sister Alise is also a presence, instigating the conflict inside Emma’s brain. She both blames and offers comfort, trying to keep her sister with her in a liminal impass where Alise’s own death can be both acknowledged and ignored.
There is a suggestion of a suicide attempt in the bandages around Emma’s wrists and, as well as the population of voices in her head, we also see her interactions with a young psychiatrist, who prescribes drugs, and tries to engage Emma in talking therapy.
The onstage singing and dialogue conjures the internal conflicts of a mind that, eventually, allows itself to accept reality and move on, freeing both the living Emma, and the memory of Alise. (KK)
Dark Heart is on at 12:45 at Paradise In Augustines until August 20th. Wheelchair Access, Level Access, Hearing Loop, Wheelchair Accessible Toilets - https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/dark-heart
On survivor guilt: http://www.giftfromwithin.org/html/Guilt-Following-Traumatic-Events.html
Charity promoting mental wellbeing in young people: http://www.youngminds.org.uk
The Pixar movie Inside Out features characters based on elements of the psyche: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWhORs6tSJY
Literature review - ‘The effects of participation in performing arts for health on young people’ http://www.ahsw.org.uk/userfiles/Research/Young_People_Review_copy.pdf
Infinity Repertory Theatre Company website: http://infinityreptheatre.com/about-infinity/