Review: I thought I Was Having an Existential Crisis, But It Was Just A Gluten Intolerance
By Dina Ustovic
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mindshare is a creative community and online mental health publication. Reflections are by mindshare writers with lived experience of mental illness, specifically critiquing through a mental health lens. Content may contain triggering themes.
I thought I Was Having an Existential Crisis, But It Was Just A Gluten Intolerance may be a mouthful to say but is truly a quirky and introspective look into loneliness, depression and finding purpose and meaning in life. Created by Sophie and Conor, this theatre show follows the main protagonist Sophie as she learns about her new celiac diagnosis whilst also dealing with the subsequent grief and depression following a previous breakup. With the encouragement of her best friend Conor, she is persuaded to put herself out there once by a very informative presentation.
Abundant with dry humour, the show is interesting and engaging with each character being praised for the uniqueness and relatability. Both Conor and Sophie are comedic standouts with Sophie serving as the audience’s relatable protagonist. Yet despite its easy humour, the show is truly at its best as delves deeper into its core beliefs and messages: our search for purpose and meaning within our own suffering and loneliness. Conor and Sophie equally serve as mirrors to the audiences to question their own beliefs and behaviours and if they are at the detriment to ourselves.
The show even asks us to question our romanticisation of suffering and question our coping mechanisms. We see Sophie struggle with opening up after her previous breakup, afraid to even go on a date. But we also see the reverse through Conor who appears to be seeking validation through dating in an endless loop to fill a void. Each version wants the same thing, love. And yet their loneliness is not satisfied through this superficial version of healing their loneliness.
I thought I Was Having an Existential Crisis provides a unique portrayal of mental illness that is relatable and will in particular resonate especially with the millennial generation. The use of the internet and dating apps helps personify how mental illness can impact certain core beliefs of ourselves that we may have when it comes to love and authenticity. It is jarring and realistic in a way that will capture the attention of any audience.
However, it would have been equally interesting to see more mutual support shown throughout the show between the characters. Support can be crucial in any recovery journey and as the ending is left ambiguous, it can come across as if there is only a certain way to deal with our issues. This can remove agency and perhaps perpetuate old and cliché narratives.
Overall, I thought I Was Having an Existential Crisis, but It Was Just A Gluten Intolerance is a thoughtful and eccentric show that lets us address loneliness and toxic behaviours. But as Sophie describes, it is the love we find within those closest to us that help us heal our loneliness and find purpose in our stories. Four stars.