REVIEW: Digging Deep (VAULT Festival)

Amy Guyler’s play Digging Deep is a superb piece dealing with the often un-talked about rise in young men committing suicide.

Set in a working class northern town, Mossy (Kyle Rowe) is done with life and wants out, but feels regret at leaving his family to foot the £5,000 bill for his funeral, so he and his three friends Kane, Jack, and Matt (Matthew Woodhead, Josh Sinclair-Evans, Jonny Green) set up an online fundraiser to get the money for Mossy’s impending funeral. It seems like a daft idea, but overnight the boys become entrepreneurs and are not only getting donations from friends, but are setting up sponsorships with companies and attracting major press attention. But with this press attention and the rising interest in his suicide, Mossy starts feeling the pressure of what he’s announced he’s going to do.

A morbid premise, sure, but Guyler’s writing manages to create a tone which sits perfectly between being a serious drama and an Inbetweeners’-style mad one (if that makes sense?). Guyler’s writing perfectly encapsulates the banter between lads and creates recognisable character types which don’t feel too cliché.  Whether it’s Jonny constantly talking about his girlfriend, or Jack’s over-enthusiasm for sponsorships, or even Kane’s sullen nature, there’s traits you’re sure to recognise from your closest family and friends. It’s a genuinely funny script which keeps you invested when the more serious subject matter arises.

Alistair Wilkinson’s direction is smooth, with actions taking place while Rowe delivers several monologues slick and adding to the pressure-cooker environment Mossy feels in. The transition from bantering friends to vulnerable men who want to talk about how they feel (and, crucially, don’t have the vocabulary to) is eye-opening, and shows how we may often overlook people who we deem as strong, tough, or even just funny.

A tight script which confidently discusses a serious subject matter, Digging Deep manages to find an entertaining and informative style to tackle serious themes. I hope it continues to be performed across the country in a variety of venues, for it needs to be seen.

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