FringeReview Scotland 2023
May Contain Nuts (*)
Festival: FringeReview Scotland
This is a true story that was made up. A BBC script editor sends a writer to a psychiatrist to have her script checked as the editor does not believe that it depicts mental health accurately. The episode is when the writer’s father, suffering from schizophrenia, behaved in an odd manner and therefore is, to all intents and purposes, a lived experience. The psychiatrist, having not read the script, is caught trying to explain and understand what is being asked of him. By the end he refuses because he claims there is nothing that can be claimed to be a typical mental health/schizophrenic episode but on the way out an ally gives her what she needs.
This is a read through of an experience which Loneragan had. As such it carries a degree of authenticity – not just the description and depiction of the episode with her father – but also her experience of going in to see this psychiatrist. As such, this has power.
But as a read through it begins a little inauspiciously with plenty of trigger warnings and acceptance that it may be upsetting to some, therefore some may wish to take time out and leave. All is acceptable, though the warnings do drag out a little, it does serve, nevertheless, as a good reminder of the reason we are all in one place so is welcome.
The script, and this is what is principally being judged, is pretty good. There are areas with deeply affecting humour and the frustrations of Loneragan are heartfelt and deeply appreciated as the writing veers from the agony of having to go through this process with a recognition of the many anxieties this causes. These are personified and we hear from them and see them depicted. It is a very good conceit and one that works very well.
it is also a read through which knows that it is a read through. It has been directed with sensitivity, given the subject matter but also with due regard to the circumstances of performance. Actors stand to show us they are involved in that particular scene, but nobody is engaging in wild movements – the script folders halt any thought of that, perhaps, but also it allowed for some concentration on vocal character for the audience; the performers manage to switch from their various characters with ease.
It was very well performed. It left you with a feeling that the authenticity managed to transcend from the father’s episode to the frustration of the events unfolding in front of us to the fact that we are listening to something which is planned to happen. It all feels deliciously made up, but theatrically so
If it is true that reality is stronger than fiction, this nods to that suggestion. Here as part of SMHAF this topic and perspective have found a perfect home. It has plenty within it which is daring us to consider that a full-length production is needed. Seeing anxieties performed as characters would be marvelous and take us from the realms of a Wonderful World of Dissocia to a new level of understanding. And that is exactly what revolutionary thought should begin with.