Powerful production explores mental health issues of our times

Standing ovations for world premiere of award-winning play at The Royal Exchange



POWERFUL: Julie Hesmondhalgh and Norah Lopez Holden in The Almighty Sometimes which tackles the issues of mental health head on.


Julie Hesmondhalgh is appearing at The Royal Exchange Theatre in the World Premiere The Almighty Sometimes until February 24.

Written by Kendall Feaver, the play was the winner of a Judges Award at the 2015 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting. The premiere is directed by Katy Rudd.

This is a story with great emotional depth and humour as Renee (Julie Hesmondhalgh) strives to protect her daughter Anna throughout her childhood mental illness.

Julie’s performance is truthful and powerful, but also projects pathos and wit into the role as her character faces the dilemma of her daughter turning 18 and deciding if she should continue to take the medication she has taken since the age of just eight.

Locally-based Julie is a well-loved actor and the audience’s reaction to the powerful subject matter tackled in the play was overwhelming, receiving standing ovations.

The play also stars Sharon Duncan-Brewster (Vivienne), Norah Lopez Holden (Anna) and Mike Noble (Oliver).

SIMPLY SUPERB: Sharon Duncan-Brewster plays the role of Anna’s psychiatrist Vivienne.


Vivienne has been Anna’s doctor since she was seven-years-old and now Anna is 18 she decides to stop taking her medication which has huge consequences for all of the characters.

Sharon Duncan-Brewster is superb in the role of the doctor as she remains incongruent throughout her relationship with Anna and Renee.

She operates completely within the remit of the NHS and never steps foot outside to reveal a personal side to the character, remaining professional throughout.

COMPELLING: Norah Lopez Holden gives a sensational performance as the troubled teenager Anna, questioning if the medication for her mental illness has suppressed her natural and brilliant creativity as she bravely decides to stop taking the tablets… a decision with huge consequences and which raises significant questions for all of the characters involved.


Norah Lopez Holden is simply sensational and compelling in the role as the teenage daughter.

She is a versatile actor with charisma, charm and character strength.

We feel the pain, distress and frustration that she conveys as she tries to fight the demons that control her behaviour; this being the medication, which has become part of her life.

Her relationship with Oliver is tentative and even though he loves her, he doesn’t want the responsibility of being her carer because he is already burdened to look after his disabled father.

A NATURAL: Mike Noble is Anna’s boyfriend Oliver – but can he cope with the challenges of Anna’s mental illness?


Mike Noble is captivating in the boyfriend role, a genius in comic timing and there is great charisma between him and Anna.

Renee’s relationship with Anna is strained and fraught and only at the end of the play do they share compassion with each other.

The themes of mental health problems are rigorously and exhaustively explored throughout this production and the characterisations bring this to the forefront, evoking much thought and deliberation.

The production poses many fundamental moral questions around mental health issues faced by young people and especially teenagers, which are so hugely relevant in our times.

This, coupled with a terrific cast make this a must see production.

MIND SET: The Royal Exchange uses the round in extraordinary ways to bring simple scenes from a family dinner to life – to exploring the inside of Anna’s mind magnificently.


Designer Rosanna Vize creatively captures the turmoil that Anna endures while lighting by Lucy Carter and sound by Giles Thomas also added atmospheric intensity to the production.

Please note: The Almighty Sometimes contains content and graphic scenes that some people may find distressing or triggering – more information can be found on the websitehttps://www.royalexchange.co.uk/whats-on-and-tickets/the-almighty-sometimes

Box Office: 0161 833 9833.

Pictures by Manuel Harlan