Review: For All I Care, National Theatre Wales, Edinburgh Fringe, By Hannah Goslin

 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Sometimes it’s quite nice to see a celebrity on stage. In Wales, they feel like they are in abundance on the Welsh Theatre scene, with the pool of the industry in this country being small. So it was a surprise to watch For All I Care, and not realising until after that the performer was Hannah Daniel of Keeping Faith fame.

This surprise is a good surprise. I entered the performance and found myself so engrossed that it was not until I read later on that day of who she was; a performer who I (only too recently) had just seen in a huge binge of Keeping Faith series 1 and 2.

For All I Care is a one woman show looking at mental health, Wales and the magic that is the NHS. Daniel takes on around 6 characters in total – we see majority of the play focussing on the relationship between Clara and Nyri; two very different women leading very different lives. Clara is a young woman suffering with her mental health, and attempted suicide. Nyri is a mental health nurse who tries to help Clara, but she is not totally altogether herself. Daniel also takes on other intermittent characters such as Marco, the mental health Doctor, Nyri’s son, Alex the younger man Nyri sleeps with and ‘The Devil’; Clara’s controlling crime boss.

Daniel does a brilliant job of chopping and changing these characters – to help with this the basic staging has 3 microphones hanging from the ceiling. She picks these up when another character comes in to the scene, into the main character’s story. This creates a barrier; it is so disassociated and almost hyper-real that it works; it suspends our disbelief and we see that other person, almost as if another actor had walked in. My only criticism is that we know Daniel is capable of more, and for me, it felt like there needed to be more definition of each character, whether this meant more of a physical change, more pronounced vocal differences or both.

The narrative itself is a fresh take on mental health; with this once taboo subject being encouraged more into main media and society, there’s many a play I have seen where the medical professional is clean nosed and almost angelic. Clara has real problems; real psychological issues. And while Nyri may not be to this level, her life is not perfect; she still makes mistakes, she has her own issues and her own past. She is more relatable and more likeable than other productions that make us almost shake our head at the lack of realism to a medical character.

For All I Care is a lovely piece; it provides a fresh narrative, and really has the ability to showcase a performer as a solo talent, with some minor tweaking.

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