Former mental health nurse creates award- winning show with help from his ex-patients
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When psychiatric nurse-turned-comedian Rob Gee decided to write a show about his experiences in mental health, he knew exactly who to turn to for help. Fruitcake: Ten Commandments from the Psych Ward charts a night shift on a mental health unit, seen through the eyes of a jaded nurse who hears the voice of God. In this case, God is a kindly Jamaican woman who gives him ten benevolent commandments to help him through the shift; and life.
Rob spent sixteen years working as a registered mental health nurse before becoming a full-time writer and performer. He enjoyed looking back at his old career with fresh eyes: “When I first wrote Fruitcake, I performed it to an audience of people I’d nursed in the past. I was really nervous! Thankfully the feedback was very positive, it was a huge relief.”
Rob has won over twenty awards for his solo shows and performed with luminaries such as Jo Brand, Sue Townsend, Sarah Millican, Harold Pinter and Frankie Boyle. He is lead artist for the Comedy Asylum: comedy shows created and performed by people receiving mental health treatment.
Rob also goes into mental health units to help people create their own comedy. “The simple act of sharing a joke with someone can be tremendously therapeutic. Above all, laughter can remind us that we’re not alone.”
Fruitcake: Ten Commandments from the Psych Ward is showing at Bridport Arts Centre, South Street, DT6 3NR, on Sat 9th July at 7.30pm. Tickets available from bridport-arts.com, box office 01308 424901. Contains strong language and adult themes. Recommended age 16+.
Reviews for Fruitcake: “A tour de force” Victoria Times, Canada; “Terrifically well written” Orlando Sentinel; “Smart, funny and frequently very moving” Calgary Herald; “A convulsively funny and surprisingly moving tribute to humanity’s collective psychosis” Minnesota Examiner; “Inspirational… thought-provoking, humbling and hilarious” Mind Share, Adelaide; “Gee has pitched it perfectly… this hour showcases his strong talents as a witty, skilful storyteller.” Chortle, UK.
Fruitcake also features internationally renowned dub poet Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze (1956-2021) as the disembodied voice of God. Jean was described by the British Council as “one of the most important, influential performance poets of recent years.” She also had a diagnosis of schizophrenia.
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