Review: Declaration, Hartlepool Town Hall Theatre

Sarah Emmott, the star of Declaration.
Sarah Emmott, the star of Declaration.

With its in-the-round production, audience interaction and challenging, in-your-face performance, Declaration is no ordinary theatre experience.

Hartlepool Town Hall Theatre hosted the production - to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week - a comedy play which aims to break down the stigma around mental health disorders.

Declaration is based on the personal experience of comedian Sarah Emmott, who performs the one-woman show with startling authenticity and vulnerability.

Sarah was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as an adult after growing up feeling different to her peers.

ADHD is a group of behavioural symptoms, including inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

And that experience drives Sarah’s remarkable performance, from being a child as a coiled spring, bouncing off the walls to the uncertainty and fear of adult diagnosis.

The performance uses the in-the-round set up well, surrounded by sheets on a washing line onto which enlightening video inserts from her mother is shown.

Sarah also bursts into song and sits and chats with members of the audience as she candidly tackles her experiences of ADHD.

Declaration takes audiences into a world often unexplored onstage with a fresh, fun and frank perspective on the ADHD debate.

The company behind the play, Art with Heart, tackles difficult subjects with honesty, warmth and humour, and believe Declaration will open conversations and challenge preconceptions around mental health and ADHD.

They made a well-being space available throughout and after the show to ensure the audience are relaxed and comfortable.

The show returns to the region at Alnwick Playhouse on May 23, Stockton ARC on May 24, Bishop Auckland Town Hall on June 28 and Washington Arts Centre on June 29.