Ruby Wax, the caustic comedian who has spent years struggling with depression, is about to tackle the taboos surrounding mental health in the only way she knows – in the full glare of a one-woman stage show.
Wax, who recently took time out from television in order to qualify as a psychotherapist, will perform a half-hour monologue solely concerning mental health issues at the Edinburgh Festival in August. She is currently studying for an MA in neuroscience.
"I'm doing stuff that's funny about mental illness," she says. "It's a monologue. Humour is the only way to tackle it; otherwise it's po-faced."
In her autobiography, How Do You Want Me?, the American comedian laid bare the details of her own battle against depression and mental breakdown while at the height of her TV career. She also acknowledges that, for many entertainers, going on stage is a form of therapy. Wax is one of the latest in a series of high-profile comedy actors and performers who are going public about their struggle to stay the right side of the fine line between hilarity and mania.
"They used to burn [mentally ill] people at the stake," she says. "We're not killing them any more, or putting them on show in places like Bedlam. We're putting them on the TV instead."
In 2006, Stephen Fry made and presented The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, a documentary on bipolar disorder, from which he suffers. The comedian famously disappeared in 1995 after walking out of a production of the play Cell Mates. He resurfaced in Belgium, saying that he had attempted to commit suicide.
Hugh Laurie, Lenny Henry and Paul Merton have all admitted to battling depression. Spike Milligan wrote a book about his life-long manic depression, and the unhappiness of Tony Hancock and Kenneth Williams was laid bare in television biopics last year.
Source - Independent