A bed, a bedside lamp, a goldfish (puppet) in a fish tank, and a projection on the bedroom curtains of a mouthless puppet girl, strolling, running, swimming, dancing, flying. A real girl storms into the space through the door, into her bedroom space, her sanctuary, her solitary world; she’s exhausted, she’s troubled, she’s puzzled and perplexed, she’s anxious. Doctors’ letters are pulled from her bag, she glances at them, crumples them and transforms them into friends and foes, dancing pages, papery grenades, a tumble of words and complications. Dancing wildly free of her black puppeteer clothes, the fish’s puppeteer becomes an animator of the room and the external voice of Cassie’s world… There’s rain on the curtains, which, when pulled open, reveal tree branches against a blue sky, a world away. Cassie reclines and a landscape is pegged onto her jeans… everything is grey and of slate tone, except for the orange goldfish and the verdant leaves and blue radiance of the sky beyond the raindrop dappled window, way way way beyond her reach.
Headcase is a visual and poetic story of one girl’s state of mind and degrees of mental health – how the world feels for her and how she vents it. It’s also a story of aloneness, and of a fragile yet powerful mind.
Through the wordless yet vivid and multifaceted portrayal of Cassie by Yael Karavan – who can say as much silent and still through her eyes as she can through her depth of movement vocabulary – and the luminous performance by Annie Brooks as the puppeteer and caring, nurturing, wellness aspect of Cassie, we are netted into a tempest of strange, palpably raw and heart-rendingly tender moments. With such skill and entrancing imagery we are completely drawn into Cassie’s perception and inner life. This is an extremely busy, at times scary and solitary world, yet full of quiet action, exquisite detail, and arriving at a final image of recovery that sees Cassie ready to literally go back out into the world and her life. It’s a very beautiful and moving show.