A powerful monologue about male mental health, Ifeyinwa Frederick’s Sessions is set on Tunde’s 30th birthday (“you’re a proper adult”).
He’s just started therapy. His love life is in flux, and his serious girlfriend has made a decision which has turned his life upside down. Despite it being drummed into him that men don’t cry, he even found himself doing just that on a one-night stand.
His friends and family are settling into regular habits and expectations. Tunde’s list of sexual conquests seems a sad coda to his busy, socialising twenties.
As portrayed by Joseph Black, Tunde becomes a detailed characterisation, first appearing easy and open, then pulling us into his foibles, fears and regrets. It is a measured and strong performance.
Philip Morris directs, with Asaf Zohar taking care of sound and composition, Simisola Majekodunmi providing the atmospheric lighting, and Anna Reid on production design.
The stage has chairs, boxes, and phones. It doubles as Tunde’s living space and his therapist’s office. It is his cocoon and cradle, his safe space and studio. Into this space come voices from phone calls and messages, a frail connection with a world going on withiut him.
The sessions refers to both therapy and music, perhaps also dating (often on Tinder, never Hinge). There are moments which touch the heart: around fatherhood, around the sliver of hope at the end of the play.
A tough but necessary watch, Sessions is one of those plays which may trigger viewers (a link to resources which can help is provided) but which could and should start conversations about men and their mental health, and how grief, anxiety and depression needs to be discussed out in the open.
You can watch Sessions – co-presented with Paines Plough – through Soho Theatre on Demand from 4-13 March. For tickets and more information go here.