Electrolyte, by Wildcard theatre company, is the winner of the 2018 Mental Health Fringe Award, it was announced today.

The Mental Health Fringe Award, now in its second year, is presented by the Mental Health Foundation in recognition of the most compelling show about mental health at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The winning show will be one of the headline events at the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival (SMHAF) in May 2019, in partnership with the Tron Theatre’s Mayfesto programme. The award is also supported by the Scotsman newspaper and is presented at the annual Scotsman Fringe Awards.

Electrolyte, a powerful piece of gig theatre exploring schizophrenia, depression and male suicide, was chosen from a longlist of over 40 shows – and a final shortlist of seven (listed below).

Andrew Eaton-Lewis, arts lead for the Mental Health Foundation, said: “The range and quality of shows exploring mental health at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe was incredible, and our shortlist very much reflects that – it includes clowning, cabaret, physical theatre and gig theatre, and ensemble shows and solo shows. All of the seven shows on our shortlist are of exceptional quality, and we recommend them highly, but in the end Electrolyte emerged as the favourite among the judges. It’s an exhilarating show which handles difficult subjects with great sensitivity.”

The shortlist for the 2018 Mental Health Fringe Award consisted of the following seven shows:

Can’t Stop Can’t Stop (C Royale) – a vivid, intense piece of physical theatre that offers a glimpse into what it feels like to live with OCD, and is compellingly performed by Sam Does Theatre.

A Generous Lover (Summerhall) – poignant and hilarious in equal measures, La John Joseph’s show explores – with some help from Greek mythology and Whitney Houston – the strain of looking after a partner who has been institutionalised.

A Fortunate Man (Summerhall) – New Perspectives Theatre Company brings to life John Berger’s groundbreaking 1960s book, A Fortunate Man, about a country doctor who later committed suicide.

Electrolyte (Pleasance Dome) – Wildcard theatre company’s exhilarating piece of gig theatre, told through spoken word and live music, tells the dramatic story of a young woman’s breakdown and the friendships that help her through it.

Valerie (Summerhall) – another powerful piece of gig theatre, by Last Tapes Theatre Company of New Zealand, exploring family, mental illness, and DNA, as writer/composer Robin Kelly tells the story of his much-missed grandmother.

A Clown Show About Rain (Pleasance Dome) – an uplifting, expertly performed hour of inspired clowning, highlighting mental health issues, by Silent Faces.

Elise (Pleasance Courtyard) – Dixie Fried Theatre’s show is the story of forgotten Beat poet Elise Cowan, who took her own life in 1962. The play subtly explores (without drawing any simple conclusions) to what extent she was ill, and to what extent she was a victim of the values of her time.

The shortlist, and winner, were chosen by a six-strong panel of judges consisting of: Andrew Eaton-Lewis and Gail Aldam (Mental Health Foundation), Andy Arnold (Tron Theatre), Yasmin Sulaiman (director, Creative Edinburgh, and former editor of The List), Mark Fisher (theatre critic), Tim Cornwell (arts journalist) and Linda Irvine (strategic programme manager, NHS Lothian)

For further information and interview requests, please contact Andrew Eaton-Lewis at aeaton-lewis@mentalhealth.org.uk.