Scottish Youth Theatre

Neil Cooper

Four stars

It’s time to sink or swim for Cammy, the young woman at the centre of Catriona McNicoll’s new play, performed by an eighteen-strong crew from the Citizens Theatre Young Company. Cammy is in a coma in a hospital bed after trying to kill herself. Her mum may be at her bedside along with assorted doctors and nurses, but Cammy’s fevered imagination has got the better of her and left her all at sea, where she embarks on a trip to some far off horizon she’s never visited before.

With her bed transformed into a sailing ship, whether her maiden voyage is a one-way ticket to oblivion or not depends on whether she lets the not so brave Captain beside her take the steering wheel. Far better at navigating is the ship’s engineer, while assorted stowaways bob in and out of view along with a Busby Berkeley style chorus that takes Cammy’s fantasia into far stranger waters.

Running just over an hour long, McNicoll’s play dives head-first into Cammy’s all too lucid dream. Director Neil Packham leads his bright young cast through all manner of uncharted territory on Neil Haynes’ constantly-in-motion set. Here, teenage mental health issues are seen from the inside in a not always comfortable theatrical fusion of fantasy and reality.

As a former Youth Company member, McNicoll knows exactly who she’s writing for in terms of both performers and audience. The hallucinatory rabbit hole she has Cammy jump down sees Kari Hall bring her to life as a troubled but vibrant presence, channelling both the trauma and the absurdity of her character’s situation before she tries to find her way again. There are fine turns too from Ellie Jack as Captain and Kai Ross as Engineer, who lead the rest of the ensemble gamely through the storm until the clouds lift and Cammy can go home once more in an emotional voyage fired by the wayward power of the imagination.