Where is Kick, scratched the surface of the underlying stigma towards mental health last weekend at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination (EBCCI).
The sold-out play, written and directed by Luci Hammans and produced by Mustardseed Production, included the extraordinarily talented young actors and actresses from Mustardseed’s Youth Theatre Ensemble.
The cast was led by Remi Best who played Kick, Maya Hewitt who acted as Kick’s girlfriend Meadow, Mahalah Harrison, who was Moussey, Kymorhi Trotman who played Kick’s cousin, Aaron and Ashonte Monrose who played Rhea.
Where is Kick followed the journey of a group of friends who were bonded by their exclusion. Each adolescent suffered in silence with mental illness, either living with an illness or being exposed to it through family members. The play followed Kick’s journey as a teenager who had been labelled a troublemaker by society and who suffered from emotional frustration and turmoil that could not be explained in words. She sought solace amongst her friends who were equivalent to the familial ties which she lacked at home.
The plot begins with a nation-wide search for Kick after she commits a heinous crime – arson – and goes into hiding. Her friends are under investigation by the police who believe that they know her whereabouts. The audience was then given a peek into the events as they unfolded and the trigger that fired Kick’s ‘gun’ i.e. her emotions.
One of the most jolting scenes was Kick’s soliloquy where she revealed she often ran away and left clues to see who cared enough to look for her. The conversation between Kick, Meadow, Moussey, Aaron, and Rhea in the caves of St Thomas before Kick was arrested by the police was moving. Kick openly admitted that she felt she was going to be abandoned by her ‘crew’. Hence, the play’s tagline, “The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.”
Best’s depiction of a conflicted, angry and emotionally warped 16-year-old who has been stereotyped and dismissed by society was triggering. Her performance left many asking – how many of our island’s young people are screaming for help just to be ignored?
Another alarming scene was the response of educators towards Kick’s behaviour. The principal’s goading and expulsion sent Kick over the edge. In a bout of fear and anger, she lit a piece of paper which accidentally snowballed into the entire school going up in flames.
The play also reflected how the youth were often silenced when it came to dealing with anxiety and depression, as evidenced in the characters Meadow who was overwhelmed by examinations, and Moussey who feared failure. It also showed how child abuse and negligence can often go unchecked by authorities and the education system and wandering by females was taken lightly or as a ‘joke’ by the public.
The hour and 15-minute piece concluded with Kick standing in the magistrate’s court apologizing for her misdemeanours and admitting that she needed help. There was no definitive ending and Kick’s new story had just begun.
Speaking to the audience after the play, director Luci Hammans revealed that one in five young people suffered from mental health challenges and one in four adults as well. Hammans indicated she sought to highlight that adolescences were facing mental health challenges and open the discussion to the community. (KK)