The Mental was produced by axis in 2006 as the centrepiece to Out of The Silence, and Arts in Mental Health festival, which occurred in several venues around Ireland. As part of his residency in 2011 An Grianan revisited the show for a limited run, and organised a series of workshops to tie in with the performances, at the same time Donegal County Museum curated an exhibition based on the history of St. Conals Asylum and the script for The Mental was published in ” A Donegal Trilogy”
‘The Mental’ is a powerful commission bringing to light the story of Ireland’s forgotten charges in institutions throughout the country. ‘The Mental’ opened to rave reviews in May 2006 and garnered huge media attention and critical acclaim as a ground-breaking production which addressed the stigma surrounding mental health issues and portrayed them in a touching, humorous, poignant and ultimately human manner.
The play is about a Donegal boy, Joe Boyle, who fails to fit in. It is about his struggle to find a safe place in the world, which only leads him further down a road of frustration, isolation,
and ultimately breakdown. In St. Conal’s institution Letterkenny he becomes aware of a past resident Seosamh Mac Grianna, the Irish language writer, who spent the last thirty years of his life there. But whereas Seosamh decided “Nothing would make me talk. I never spoke about the thing which was on my mind. I was defending my soul” Joe Boyle wants to express his soul through music.
‘The Mental’ features original songs and live music from sean-nós to New York punk by Little John Nee, Laura Sheeran and Nuala Ní Chanainn.
Reviews for The Mental
‘Little John plots Joe’s journey as a personal history, allowing a rich and complex portrait of his character to come through’
Sara Keating, The Irish Times
‘Little John Nee, as actor and writer, has become a representative Irish figure and commentator, and never more so than here’
Gerry Colgan, The Irish Times
‘Its beauty lies in its charm, but its depth lies in its message’
Rachel Andrews, Sunday Tribune
‘…Brings the audience to their feet in one of the most enthusiastic ovations I have seen in a long time’
Colin Murphy, Village Magazine