"I'm Kat, I forget things, I struggle with tasks a 5-year-old can do, and sometimes I imagine myself in army films." But Kat's life wasn't always like this. Before the accident there were no doctors, no nightmares… and she could tie her own shoelaces. Now she must come to terms with what has happened, and try to relearn what she has lost.
Kat wakes up; it's not her bed, nor her house, though those are definitely her smelly shoes. We don't know the details of her accident or her injuries, but as we meet the doctors we learn that her brain is damaged. Angrily Kat rejects both the specialists' therapy and her sister's support, trying to ignore her impairments, all the while slipping into the surreal and chaotic world of her mind.
This original show tackles difficult topics of recovery and acquired disability, but from an interesting and humorous perspective. We see Kat, her sister and the doctors – but also Kat's consciousness, and the other characters inside her brain. Switching between her mind, her dreams and the real world gives the audience an interesting insight into what she is going through, and the confusion and forgetfulness of brain damage. It also provides the opportunity for lighter moments, inconspicuous exposition, and well-written songs about memory impairment.
The show has a well-judged balance of humour and drama, exploring the anguish and frustration of disability while acknowledging there are lighter moments too. Of the times when we glimpse into Kat's thoughts, I think the assessment where her mind plays "Kat's phrase" is the best, both for laughs and for getting a feel for her difficulties. The contrast between what she thinks and what she says is familiar and very funny; while her brain gives an excellent, almost encyclopaedic definition of a cat, she manages "err, it's not a dog...".
However, the comedy of some of the trips into her mind is very forced, and it feels as though they have been shoehorned in for laughs rather than to explain how she's been affected. Particularly, I feel, the journey through the primitive parts of her mind doesn't really contribute anything to either the plot or the audience's understanding. In contrast, when they get through to the truth and to where her fears reside, it is very well done – providing an excellent opportunity for explanation.
Exploring loss, disability and sisterly love, with clever use of minimal props and scenery, this play delivers laughs while making you think. Though not all of the humour and surrealism works, overall this piece delivers on its promise to show the importance of trying, even when you don't succeed.