It’s a question Bentley-based academic Dimity Wehr is exploring in the Aussie pub rock musical Merry Go Round, premiering at Belmont’s Latvian Centre Theatre this month.
Written and directed by Bree Vreedenburgh, it’s a showcase of Aussie music classics framing the story of Alan, who is trying to get his life back on track after a suicide attempt.
He is sent to a therapy group led by the ever-cheerful Tim and encounters a sweet-natured junkie, someone with post-traumatic stress disorder, a lady overcoming the death of her husband, a woman recovering from an abusive relationship and another person described as beyond help.
Wehr plays Rosa, a spiritual widow with emotional intelligence.
‘She practises yoga and alternative medicine and is in the therapy group to move on from grief,’ the Curtin University curriculum designer said.
‘Rosa is very personable and gets on with everybody.
‘I felt the part was close to myself in personality and age but the circumstances are different ” I have had heartbreak and know what it’s like to lose someone.’
Wehr has performed professionally at the Playhouse and New Fortune Theatres in Perth, London’s Hammersmith Town Hall, Victoria’s State Theatre and the Geelong Performing Arts Centre.
She also appeared in the Channel 10 series Haydaze, the feature film Woody Island and various productions at Esperance’s Bijou Theatre, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Guys and Dolls.
‘I actually haven’t acted for a while and felt Merry Go Round was a good way to get back into it,’ Wehr said.
‘There is a lot of choreography to master and the singing may be challenging, although not majorly so.’
Vreedenburgh said Merry Go Round was about beating depression, asking for help, rising above adversity and showing that people who had mental illnesses were the same as the rest of us.
‘My inspiration to write the show came from my own experiences living with depression, as well as learning about how other people deal with discussing it,’ she said.
‘The greatest influences were how people overcame depression ” or didn’t.
‘I’ll talk to anyone about my experiences but I’ve found there are people who still don’t understand mental illness and think it’s a taboo topic, happy to sweep it under the carpet.’