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Ruby Wax and Judith Owen in Losing It
“I’m just the same as you - dealing with the heart ache, death and loneliness.”
One in four people, according to Ruby Wax, are not right. They have a disease, but because the diseased organ in question is the brain they get a side order of shame and the problem of coping when “what’s wrong with you, is you”.
In Losing It, Ms Wax spares no sympathy for the friends who rang during her breakdown to say "buck up". She’s also fairly sharp on marriage, love, British people and inequality.
The show, an uneven two-hander with singer Judith Owen, tells the story of Ruby's road to depression, breakdown and on to the relatively sunny uplands of understanding and acceptance.
With edgy and sometimes scatological humour she tells of a tense childhood with a mother who "howled" through life and of not fitting in with the pretty girls at school or alongside the yummy mummies and other grownups.
Life comes without a manual she laments. No one tells you how to behave as an adult, as a parent, as a wife... So, for years, she copied those around her and kept on going.
Keeping going, achieving, or running, as she calls it, is her thing. Achieving the laudable state of busy-ness and succeeding acquiring the showbiz trophies of fame and success, would, she theorised, silenced the voices, her life-long internal critics.
Ruby's cabaret show descriptions of the steps to her state of “having dead fish eyes” are disconcerting - I certainly haven't heard a more accurate illustration of racing thoughts and self criticism of depression. She talks of her 'tribe', fellow victims who are still on the outside but busy on the inside.
She has a little ponder about where it all goes wrong, but the result seems more for comedy then education. Love is efficiently debunked as urges and hormones, marriage is a negotiated deal. Aspirations and reality, aging and expectations all swiftly examined and found wanting.
Ruby’s acidic and funny revelations are punctuated by Judith’s beautiful and haunting songs.
Having presented the painful case for the broken headed Ruby does have some hope for the future.
She doesn't shy away from drugs; urges acceptance of mental illness and scathing criticism for the “just buck up” brigade.
Ruby Wax tackled her own depression head-on, learning all she could about the condition, and on the way she has built up a ferocious head of fury at the ignorance and misinformation of such a common malaise. She even got a new show out of it. It’s clear, she’s found something else keep on running for...
Ruby Wax and Judith Owen’s show Losing It is on at the Duchess Theatre, London from August 31 to October 1.