Manic Street Creature, a powerful new theatre show by Lancashire-born singer-songwriter Maimuna Memon, has won the 2022 Mental Health Fringe Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Established in 2017, the Mental Health Fringe Award is presented each year by the Mental Health Foundation in recognition of the most compelling new show about mental health at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The award is supported by the Tron Theatre and the Scotsman newspaper.

Manic Street Creature explores “the euphoria and distress of two people dealing with their own and each other’s mental health” through the story of Ria, a songwriter who falls in love with a man who she later discovers has bipolar. The show will now be invited to return to Scotland in 2023 as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival (SMHAF), in partnership with the Tron Theatre.

Manic Street Creature was chosen from a long list of over 30 shows, and a final shortlist of five (see below), by a panel consisting of Andrew Eaton-Lewis, Gail Aldam and Rob Dickie from the Mental Health Foundation, and Andy Arnold and Seona McClintock from the Tron Theatre, in consultation with the Scotsman’s team of critics, who see hundreds of shows at each year’s festival.

Andrew Eaton-Lewis, arts programme officer for the Mental Health Foundation, said:

“Over the past few years mental health has become a consistent theme at the Edinburgh Fringe, with an increasing number of artists making brave, honest and boundary-pushing work on the subject. We set up this award to recognise and encourage this work. All of this year’s shortlisted shows are playing an important role in challenging stigma, asking difficult questions, and opening up new conversations about mental health. All of them deserve your attention.

 

“Ultimately though there can only be one winner, and we are delighted to invite Maimuna to bring Manic Street Creature to the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival next year. It’s one of the most honest and empathetic shows I’ve seen about the challenges of living with someone who is going through mental ill health, and the impact it can have on your own mental health. It is also just a fantastic, exhilarating piece of theatre by an extraordinarily gifted singer, musician and writer, in collaboration with two other brilliant musicians, Rachel Barnes and Yusuf Memon.”

The other shortlisted shows for the 2022 Mental Health Fringe Award were:

Cassie Workman: Aberdeen (Just the Tonic Nucleus)

The death of Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain had a huge impact on a whole generation, as vividly illustrated by Cassie Workman’s hour-long poem about her idol, in which she embarks on a pilgrimage to the Washington State town where Cobain grew up, and ends up communing with his ghost.

Breathless (Pleasance Courtyard)

Laura Horton’s play, expertly performed by Madeleine McMahon, is the story of an anxious young woman who is in denial about her compulsive hoarding, expressed in the obsessive collection of second hand designer clothes, until a new relationship offers a glimpse of possible recovery.

Feeling Afraid As If Something Terrible Is Going To Happen (Summerhall)

Marcelo Dos Santos’s rapid-fire monologue follows a promiscuous, panic-stricken London stand-up comedian (brilliantly played by Samuel Barnett) who keeps sabotaging his chances of happiness until he falls for a quiet American with a rare nerve condition that means if he laughs he could actually die.

Sense of Centre (Dance Base)

Jack Webb’s solo dance piece sets out to explore “our increasing sense of loneliness and isolation and the basic human need for a centre of gravity”. It’s a visually arresting and yet meditative and calming performance about the search for mental wellbeing.

This year’s award is dedicated to the memory of Tim Cornwell, an arts journalist who covered the Edinburgh festival for the Scotsman for many years, and who died earlier this year. Tim had been member of the judging panel for the Mental Health Fringe Award; he spoke, and wrote, with great honesty about his own mental health.


 The Edinburgh Festival Fringe runs until Monday 29 August. Find more information and book tickets for these shows at www.edfringe.com.