Life with a mental health issue and growing up in Zambia were the subjects of two fascinating coming of age performances at the Phoenix Theatre, New College, on Saturday afternoon.

Individual Medley, by Katrina Quinn, and Do You Mind? by Joni-Rae Carrack of BearDog Theatre both offered an intimate and moving insight into the thoughts and feelings of two young women navigating a path through life, in the face of very different challenges.

Quinn’s Individual Medley mixed spoken word with physical theatre to explore her journey from childhood in Basingstoke to adolescence in Zambia – using swimming as the narrative thread holding the story together.

The performance is full of movement and rhythms, in terms of physical action as well as the sinuous language. Quinn is such an engaging and charismatic performer she carries you with her every step of the way, with a tale that is touching and comic in turns.

Carrack’s Do You Mind? uses the narrative frame of a second date – and the worries involved telling a potential partner about her mental health condition – to explore the history of her anxiety disorder and the difficulties and challenges she faced for years. This is interspersed with information about the condition, using an old-school overhead projector, and elements of puppetry.

This proved to be an intense and interesting solo performance, exploring personal vulnerabilities with an ultimately hopeful outcome. The puppetry was wonderful, though the sound effects were hard to tolerate. A low-level buzz accompanies the performance almost all the way through – to illustrate the discomfort and noise of continual anxiety. It is an interesting idea and might have worked in smaller doses, but personally, it caused me such distress it distracted badly from Carrack’s performance and I almost had to leave the auditorium – which is a shame as the rest of the show was excellent.

The event was part of Swindon Fringe 2018. For more information on events and bookings, visit