Review: Life is No Laughing Matter at Summerhall

An honest, personal and hilarious account of a young woman’s struggle with depression, at times devastating and at others ridiculous. Demi Nandhra recounts her experiences without cliché or self-indulgence. I laughed. I cried. More importantly, though, I felt I was with her.

Hearing Nandhra’s story felt a little like a friend sharing her diary with you. From the way she introduces you to her boyfriend Aaron (who serves no purpose other than to make her feel more comfortable onstage) and her excitement at introducing her dog (spoiler: excellent dog), from the outset you feel as though you know (and like) Nandhra. Her topic could be a hard-sell but she manages to strike the perfect balance between comic and tragic by highlighting the genuine absurdity of the quick-fix approaches to depression; eat bananas and exercise she was told. After all, it is a genuinely hilarious notion that a medical professional would tell a sufferer of depression to exercise more, eat bananas and get married; and it is even more hilarious to watch Nandhra shovel bananas down like they are going extinct whilst fervently star-jumping.

Comedic slapstick moments are plentiful, which also include her wearing a large yellow beanbag to help demonstrate the symptoms of depression, but none of these ever detract from the sincerity of her message and her account of her uncle’s suicide was genuinely moving. Her emotive discussion of the ways in which depression amongst communities of colour is overlooked by mainstream discourse is both powerful and necessary.

Life is No Laughing Matter, Summerhall, 31 Jul – 18 Aug (not 5, 12), 1 pm

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