The Almighty Sometimes was the worthy winner of a Judges Award in the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting 2015. Kendall Feaver’s extraordinary professional playwriting debut is brought to life in Manchester’s iconic Royal Exchange by a critically acclaimed cast.
Julie Hesmondhalgh is no stranger to Manchester’s Royal Exchange – she was named best actress at the Manchester Theatre Awards for playing a professor with cancer in Wit, following its successful run at the Royal Exchange. Now, she returns alongside Norah Lopez Holden, previously in Our Town, in this compelling portrait which charts the relationship between a young woman with mental health problems and her mother.
The daughter, eighteen-year-old Anna was diagnosed with a severe mental illness as a child and now that she is coming of age, she’s ready to take control and come off the medication. As the possibilities of her future unravel before her, Anna wonders how she might feel without the pills and the label that has defined her throughout her childhood. Her mother, alternatively, isn’t ready to relinquish her responsibility to Anna and wonders whether she has helped or harmed her.
Feaver started writing the play in 2012 after there had been a marked increase in the number of people, including children and young people, with a diagnosis of a mental health condition. Following this, she spoke to medical professionals, parents and the young people about their experiences. Feaver soon realised that the more people that she spoke to, the more apparent it became that there were no easy answers on the subject of mental health. Moving away from research Feaver recognised that as a writer, it was her job to find the story, not to preach a solution.
The Almighty Sometimes tackles the emotive and current subject of mental health from a primarily female point of view, a perspective which is not seen often enough. Playing in the Royal Exchange’s magnificent 700-seat Great Hall, it’s clear that the complexities of female relationships and the psychological lives of women presented in The Almighty Sometimes are stories that the audience are ready to experience.