Exploring The Millennial Slump in ‘Half-Baked’

The cast of 'Half Baked'

Yesterday marked World Mental Health Awareness Day. Social media became awash with posts focusing on mental health, and particularly on millennials and mental health.

With increasing attention allocated by society to depression in the millennial generation, this focus is warranted. In a society dominated by social media, we have the ability to enhance our public portrayal, enhancements that go on to create an inaccurate representation of our own realities. We are constantly presented with connections between social media and increased depression again and again in the media, and now the association between the two is ingrained. The polemic against the trend of social media and how it inadvertently leads to depression in youths is persuasive, but there are also other issues at hand.

In the current politically and socially divided climate, society is increasingly dichotomised between old and young, highlighted within the widening disparity in opinions on topics such as Brexit and the U.K. election – opinions which are predominantly split down age lines. This disassociation with the older generation, combined with a lack of job prospects in a post-recession economy, and the uncertainty of the future job market after Brexit, add context to the millennial generation and the labels of  ‘lazy’ or ‘incapable’ that are attached to them.

The increasing number of us applying to and attending university lifts expectations in line with the rising achievements of the rest of the youth. These expectations pile onto the already stressful pre-existing realities of post-university life, and combined with the pressure of finding, and then holding down, a well-payed job with promising prospects for the future – it be overwhelming. For most graduates, who find themselves returning home after becoming too-used to their short-lived freedom, this return to normalcy can bring with it it’s own nostalgic bitterness. For those university graduates who are sitting in their bedroom at their parents house, wearing pyjamas at 3pm and trolling the internet for jobs, it can be soul destroying. Especially when someone more successful than you is staring back at you from your phone screen.  These lacklustre feelings extend beyond the parameters of university graduates, to those who find themselves between jobs or careers, or those stuck in a rut, feeling the exact same sense of dissatisfaction with themselves, their abilities, and their goals.

And it’s into this climate that the Brighton-based theatre company Covert Accomplice have created ‘Half Baked’, a show that explores this post-university, millennial ‘slump’. ‘Half Baked’ follows four friends, living in their small home town, stagnating. Promising to draw parallels with the lives of 20-something year olds living in England in 2017, ‘Half Baked’ projects the experiences of underachievement and procrastination, whilst remaining very much rooted in friendship.The show is set to explore fundamental attributes and emotions that we all possess, but yet feel pressured to deny, such as: laziness, an overwhelming lack of direction, boredom. In a society that is dictated by social media and idolises an unattainable perfection, this concept of stagnation is painfully relatable, and a representation of this is desperately welcomed.

This ‘post-university’ period in life can feel like a period where nothing really happens and nothing is really achieved. However, within this idleness, ‘Half Baked’ explores the strong ties of friendship. Written and directed by Chance Bliss Dini, and featuring a local cast, ‘Half Baked’ takes on the ugly realities of millennial life.

‘Half Baked’ presents to us a message we should dwell on, the same message World Mental health Awareness Day aims to emphasise – this feeling of uncertainty and dissatisfaction in today’s millennials is commonplace.

And no-one is doing as well as it seems on their Instagram.

Covert Accomplice’s ‘Half Baked’ runs for three days, from 17th-19th October 2017, at The Rialto Theatre. Tickets are on sale now for £9.50 and £7.50 for students. The show is 16+.

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