THE MENTAL Health Show at Redditch’s Palace Theatre was stand-up, a counselling session, a self-help group and concert all rolled into one.
And I’m sure most of the audience would agree they learnt more about mental health and well-being in those two hours than they had done in the rest of their lives.
Flamboyant counsellor and comedian Sheila McMahon’s honest and frank insight into her own struggles, along with situations she has encountered in her day job made for a thoroughly entertaining, enlightening, educational and thought-provoking evening.
The Upstairs Room at the Palace was the perfect intimate venue as she interacted with the audience and made them part of the show as well as viewers.
As we found out during the course of the evening, the crowd was made up of a wide variety of people – from general viewers, fellow counsellors, representatives from MHAG (Mental Health Action Group) and other support networks and people who had faced their own mental health struggles or had family members in that situation.
The show began with Sheila going into her background and upbringing which shaped her roller-coaster of a life from someone who had been on the brink of suicide to her tackling her demons and becoming a counsellor so she could help others beat theirs.
Through recounting emotive personal experiences, comedy anecdotes, poetry, songs, singalongs and even a raffle, the audience was taken on a journey guaranteed to inspire even the most self-assured to look at their everyday lives and human behaviour in general.
This was far from a show where the performer takes to the stage, talks to the audience and then takes a bow at the end.
She made every single person in that crowd feel part of it all to the point where they were happy for their own experiences to be shared in the show.
In the first half, a multitude of issues were explored – from how childhood defines who we are, parental influence, insights into human behaviour and relationships to perception.
It ended with her leading those watching through a ‘mindfulness’ session and, with everyone feeling relaxed, there was a 30-minute interval where Sheila was available to chat to everyone and sign copies of her book.
The second half dealt more with coping mechanisms, how to deal with anxiety, negative feelings and people who can ‘bring you down’, along with plenty of friendly banter with the audience, singalongs and comedy poetry.
She also highlighted MHAG, The Samaritans, Nightstop and other local organisations who are there to help when needed.
Probably the most hilarious moments of the evening came at the end when a vote for the concluding singalong ended in a draw.
So, strumming her electro-acoustic guitar, she amalgamated Delilah and The Wild Rover, before reciting Pam Ayres’ hilarious poem Fifty Shades Of Grey.
Overall this was an excellent evening of entertainment that was insightful, enjoyable and inspirational in equal measure and, if you get a chance to see one of her other upcoming shows, it will be well worth a watch.
For more on Sheila McMahon, visit http://www.mindmanagementforyou.com/