As the audience walk in, we are handed glitter: a strange premise considering we are about to see a play about depression. However, as the play begins it becomes clear that this is not a strange premise after all; Brigitte Aphrodite approaches the topic of her depression with humour and frivolity. The play consists of a mixture of songs, pictures and voice messages with personal reference to Aphrodite’s life. Throughout the play there is an odd atmosphere in the theatre: there are parts where some people are crying (me) and some where people are laughing. It is clear that a modern audience still struggle with facing mental illness head-on. Aphrodite is fearlessly raw with her emotions throughout; there are times where she screams in anger and times where she dances in party scenes like any other young woman. It is clear that depression is a very complex illness, and Aphrodite sets out to help her audience understand it.
Aphrodite draws attention to the symptoms of depression: one of the most powerful lyrics of the play was ‘Damn this Judas of a brain’. Aphrodite in no way suggests that depression is easy to overcome, as mental illness is just as serious as physical illness. At one point in the play, Aphrodite retreats into a literal black box on the stage, to symbolise the three weeks she spent bedridden due to depression. During this scene, a montage of voicemails from family and friends plays, expressing love and worries for Aphrodite. For me, this was the most emotional part of the play because it symbolised how difficult depression is for not only the sufferer, but also for the family.
Despite the heavy subject matter of this play, I left feeling uplifted. The name of the play originates from Winston Churchill labelling depression his ‘black dog’: Brigitte’s transformation of this into ‘My Beautiful Black Dog’ summarises the overall attitude of the play, as she aims to combat her depression with a positive outlook, acknowledging its seriousness whilst making sure to remain hopeful.
Aphrodite ended the play with a particularly poignant and powerful statement: ‘the rain of course will come back, but I’ll be wearing a f**k off raincoat’. I left this play with a deeper understanding of depression itself and a deeper respect for those who suffer from this illness.