Note: A free performance of “Eric and Elliot” at Radford High School, delayed several times because of inclement weather, is scheduled now for 7 p.m. Monday, March 4.
Review: ‘Eric and Elliot’ shows importance
of asking for help with mental illness
By Nona Nelson
“Eric and Elliot” tells a powerful story of mental illness, but ultimately, it’s a story of love and hope.
The current production of Roanoke Children’s Theatre — about teenage depression and suicide — has already been performed for middle school students from Roanoke, Roanoke County and Salem . Tonight’s one-act, one-hour performance will be the first for the public.
The play centers around Elliot, a teenage boy, and his younger brother Eric, a middle-school-age child, as they go on a journey to seek professional help for their depressed mother.
It’s clear that the brothers are close and that Eric adores and admires his older sibling. The two get lost on the way to the doctor’s office and meet three different characters as they try to figure out where they went wrong.
Each character the brothers encounter has a different way of coping with life’s stresses, symbolized on stage by file boxes of “paperwork.”
Ms. Hadden (Amanda Mansfield) leads a rigid life of structure and insists that everyone must drag their paperwork with them wherever they go. Mr. Willoughby (Michael Mansfield) maniacally runs away from his paperwork, terrified of dealing with the unpleasantness of reality.
Daisy (Gwyneth Strope), a girl about Elliot’s age, simply refuses to move forward or look back, preferring to ignore her paperwork and thus hide from her problems.
Along the way, the audience is given subtle clues that all is not as it seems with the brothers. Eric doesn’t want to face the tragedy of Elliot’s depression; Elliot realizes that, by letting depression consume him and by giving up hope, he caused irreparable trauma to his family.
Do you agree with theater reviewer Nona Nelson’s take on Roanoke Children’s Theatre’s “Eric & Elliot”? Let us know in the comments.