Lorcan O'Mahony (above) was first diagnosed with depression when he was 16 and has been living with it ever since. In 2017, during a particularly dark spell which required him to take time off work and withdraw a lot, Lorcan decided that he wouldn't let a lifetime of depression leave a net negative effect on his world and the world around him. Lorcan started on a journey of openness and honesty, using his abilities to write and perform, to share his story and to further the cause of breaking down stigma surrounding mental health.
It was through those initial actions that he began talking to John (who he has known most of his life already) about putting his story and abilities towards a one man show, The Funny Thing About Depression, chronicling his journey through life with and despite depression. The show is an exploration of that, but also a wider exploration of 'depression' itself and of the effect it has both externally and internally, told over the course of over 10 years.
John Young (above) and Lorcan O'Mahony have known each other for years and have joined forces to create the one-man-show, The Funny Thing About Depression.
Q. Mental illness is often depicted as ‘dangerous’ or ‘scary’ especially in the mainstream media. In what ways do you feel that comedy helps to break down the stigma?
Comedy is the 'great ice-breaker' for most of the many difficult conversations we need to have in live. It's a wonderful leveller, and can instantly portray so much. It has an ability to dissolve an awkward tension like nothing else, and it's that awkward tension that is the greatest bar to the open conversation we need to have about mental health. I come from Ireland originally, and for our culture (as well as the Manx culture) there is comedy to be found and embraced in even the darkest moments, that allows a relief and outpouring of emotion that might otherwise be bottled up and withheld.
Comedy helps to break down the stigma of mental health by allowing us to not only start those conversations, but also talk about those dark places with mutual comfort and engagement that we just wouldn't get if we tried to sit down and talk about it seriously. Getting across information is obviously key, but that is of no use if you don't engage with the listener, and show them that there is nothing to fear.
"Comedy is the 'great ice-breaker' for most of the many difficult conversations we need to have in live."
Q. This show will resonate with many people living with a mental health condition as well as those who know or live with someone with a mental health condition (e.g. a partner, family member or friend). Do you hope the show will inspire more conversation and understanding between these groups?
I certainly hope so. I don't try to lecture or advise, because I know I'm simply not qualified to do that. All I am qualified to do is tell my story - through that I have found that many people find parts which not only make sense to them, and allow them to realise they are not 'alone' in their thoughts, but which make sense to their loved ones, and allow them to approach the topic with greater insight and understanding. So many people find it so difficult to explain to loved ones what's actually going on, so I hope by sharing my story that I can provide even just a part of that insight (at least by proxy), which then makes the first conversation a bit easier.
"We both love performance, and subverting expectation with performance style, and so when we were discussing that the topic would be depression I think we both just understood that it would have to take the format of whatever would be the theatrical opposite of depression."
Q. You’ve described the show as cabaret style, why did you choose to use this particular format?
When John and I first started talking about the show, it just seemed to be our mutual understanding that the show would be cabaret style. If you know both John and I, you know that of course it would be! We both went to the same school, but we really grew up in musical theatre together. We both love performance, and subverting expectation with performance style, and so when we were discussing that the topic would be depression I think we both just understood that it would have to take the format of whatever would be the theatrical opposite of depression. I could stand and talk for an hour, I could break my story down in to a series of scenes which charted my journey, but that wouldn't be true to us and it wouldn't be true to the story. It would also be incredibly depressing, and we want audiences leaving feeling ready to engage more. For as much as depression is darkness and misery, it can also be interspersed with moments of light and music, and that's what we're hoping to achieve here.
Q. Can you give us a brief outline of what audiences expect to see?
They can expect to see one man taking a very meandering journey through the realities of depression, by employing fantasy and imagination on the way. It is an open and honest (and at points very raw) look at my life thus far, with an aim to create discussion and understanding about something that affects us all at points throughout our lives.
The Funny Thing About Depression is that it doesn't always have to be miserable. In this show, Lorcan explores his relationship with depression, poking at the strange quirks and experiences that have come along at the deepest points in his life. Join us for an evening of laughing at the misery and shining light on the darkness. A brand new, entertaining production which aims to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health.
Join us at the South Douglas Old Friends Association for an immersive evening of storytelling.