Clapham Omnibus (venue)
01 May 2023 (released)
01 May 2023
What do a star's collapse, a romantic relationship, and depression have in common? According to ‘Supernova’, a deeply insightful and hilarious play about falling in love during mental turmoil, a great deal.
We meet Tess and Harry on a curb outside a fancy dress party. Both ridiculously overdressed and clearly infatuated with each other, an Uber home is canceled when their shared geeky obsession with space, Dr.Who, and Lost is uncovered over our male protagonist’s fake ploy for a lighter. The tumultuous relationship which follows is the focus of writer and performer Rhiannon Neads' 75-minute debut.
Samm Swann (Harry), and Rhiannon Neads (Tess) have palpable on-stage chemistry, and we witness their characters' love develop through touching situational vignettes, from planning their approach to the apocalypse to lazy fake sick days filled with takeaways and sci-fi. However, as Tess’s once endearing self-deprecation develops into clear self-sabotage, we see her mental health and the lovers' relationship sharply decline.
The portrayal of depression is refreshing, realistic, and heartfelt. We see the pyjama days that once were just an expression of the pair’s affection slowly mount up and become a clear indication of Tess’s depression. Soon she can barely leave the house, leaving Harry frustrated at having to attend parties alone and at her inability to do simple tasks. The friction this places on the relationship reinforces the important message that mental illness can’t be fixed by someone else, a truth that is often missed in other artistic portrayals.
This difficult theme is, incredibly, explored in part through space. The Supernova, a fast-burning exploding star, destined either for a new lease of life in the universe or to become a black hole, was a beautiful metaphor for Tess’s mental struggle and the couple's future together. This not only gives the audience a vessel to grapple with a reality that’s usually only understood firsthand, but injects the subject with optimism. We are left understanding that Tess’s light will continue to shine bright despite the challenges she faces.
Supernova is a play that will launch you out of your seat into new worlds, on this planet, and beyond. Running until the 13th of May at Omnibus Theater, it’s your chance to catch a truly unique performance from an up-and-coming playwright. Rhiannon Neads is a bright star that is certainly not burning out any time soon.