Last night we went to see the Reasons to Stay Alive play at HOME in Manchester. We were aware of this a while back when we saw Matt Haig on his tour of Notes on a Nervous Planet and of course me and Sarah had to book tickets! Read on for a little opinion post about the play.I was looking forward to how they would adapt this for the stage – it very much feels like Matt’s voice throughout the book and when on tour of course it was justhim talking about Notes on a Nervous Planet so again, was very much one voice. I was intrigued to see how this would transfer to a play with multiple people portrayed.
I enjoyed the sounds and score a lot – it added a lot to the atmosphere of it and fit the tone really well. I also liked the set design a lot! It was quite simple but worked well and didn’t take away from the actors at any point. It’s a “story” which doesn’t have a fixed setting and the way they played around with it was really interesting.
I really loved the acting on the whole! In particular, the supporting cast. The women were all excellent and I found myself focusing more on their roles when they were in scenes. The actor playing older Matt was also great! The relationships added a lot of wonderful nuance to the story. In the book, we read about the relationships Matt has with his family but of course it’s solely from his point of view. This felt a little like other people in his life had their experiences being told too which is a really fab addition.
There were a couple of things I felt unsure on. One of those was the way it was adapted to stage. I think some bits weren’t adapted very well and it seemed to just be the book but acted out. It felt like an author doing a reading in some parts but it was an actor pretending to be the author doing a reading. Those parts I didn’t think worked as well. I also personally felt like it was missing something that I can’t put my finger on. It’s something about the intricacies of mental illness which was so well portrayed in the book – I think a lot of the little intricacies which I found so relatable were not in the play or didn’t come across effectively if they were. This is a really vague comment I know, but that’s the only way I can phrase it!
If you’re a fan of Matt Haig I would recommend going to see it. It’s definitely worth a watch. Some of the theatrical elements are very interesting, I just think as a whole it didn’t necessarily have the impact I hoped it might.
Have you seen it or are you planning to? What are your thoughts?