If you’re looking for light entertainment, this isn’t it. In Audiotherapy, the multi-talented Sun-Mi Clyburn brings her battle with chronic depression to life with unflinching honesty and remarkable musicianship.
The format of this show is refreshingly unusual, with Clyburn’s plaintive speaking voice taking the audience on a guided tour of some of her own darkest experiences. Occasional musical numbers are used to provide moments of catharsis.
The songs alone are worth the price of admission, with Clyburn’s superlative vocals ably supported by a virtuosic band.
Her voice fills every corner of the room, rich and joyously expressive, and her account of the pain she endures is all the more tragic for it.
Clyburn’s purpose here is to leave her audience with a deeper and more intimate understanding of depression, and in this regard Audiotherapy is an unqualified success.
Her monologues have an air of wallowing hopelessness and resignation that provokes little flickers of internal disapproval.
Helping viewers to recognise their own lingering biases and misconceptions is one of the great strengths of this production.
The one thing that is lacking here is audience participation, which is perhaps understandable.
The performance is, after all, deeply personal and confessional, like a journal entry being read aloud.
But although watching Clyburn pouring her emotions into her music is rewarding, it would be even better if the audience could share in this cathartic experience alongside her.
An invitation to clap or sing along, particularly during the show’s uplifting final chorus, would be very welcome.
But this is a small missed opportunity in an otherwise wonderful production.