With Mental Health Awareness Week focusing on loneliness this year, the newly opened production of Stephen Sondheim’s Passion could not be more pertinent. Revolving around the central character of Fosca who has a mortal illness exacerbated by her mental state, Passion discusses themes of loneliness and at what cost we connect with other people.

Olivier Award winner and musical theatre icon Ruthie Henshall comments, Fosca is a famed character, beholden to her health and her family and doctors who almost become her keepers. Looking at the effects of undiagnosed mental health on those around us and the consequences of a lack of understanding, Sondheim’s production is brave and now boldly reimagined in this new production which is shining a light on the themes which haven’t always been properly addressed. Fosca finds herself lonely and isolated, often unable to leave her room. It is through desperately trying to connect with another that she can finally find an escape. Viewing Passion with a modern understanding of mental health has allowed me to connect with the character in a much deeper and I hope more sensitive way.

Sondheim specialist and Passion Director Michael Strassen comments this production of Passion allows a modern audience to trace the development of attitudes towards mental ill health. After being stripped of agency and self-esteem by the male figures in her early life, Fosca’s mental anguish is diagnosed under the antiquated banner of ‘hysteria’ and she is left isolated with no outlet to express herself. This shows the importance of connections and conversations and I hope a reworking will allow people to feel better able to talk.

Ruthie Henshall is joined in the production by Dean John-Wilson, Kelly Price, Adam Robert Lewis, Charlie Waddell, Danny Whitehead, Juan Jackson, Ray Shell, Steve Watts, and Tim Walton.

Until Sunday 5th June 2022 Tuesday-Saturday evenings 7.30pm Wed and Saturday matinee, 2.30pm Sunday matinee 3pm
Approx. 2 hours 10 minutes, including interval