Life is just a matter of appropriate planning. A good life is a well ordered life. The fullest life is the most neatly divided life. Birth, school (“with outstanding grades”), a lucrative job, a beautiful wife, a spacious suburban house, grinning suburban children, early retirement, grinning suburban grandchildren, a cheerful death and a well peopled funeral. It’s so simple, so simply broken down.
All that’s known of the ‘real’ Peter Bergmann is that he spent the last few days of his life in 2009 in the Irish city, Sligo. Every possible step had been taken to eradicate any clues relating to his identity. No tags on his clothes. No identification. No personal effects. No traces of a life. Even the name was an alias. It endures to this day, a mystery unresolved and apparently unresolvable.
Treasa Nealon’s script seeks to provide something approaching context to this strange, poignant tale. Lawrence Boothman’s performance as Bergman is pitched at a hypersensitive frequency, at turns vaudevillian, needy, broadly comic, shatteringly fragile and wildly allusive (there are strains of Yeats and Beckett throughout).
As an audience we are treated to a spectacle at once manic and potentially hallucinatory. Boothman’s performance and multi-angled characterisation leaves it unclear whether the memories of family life and friendship are real or the projected fragments of an unhealthy mind. It plays with our ideas about self-determination and agency. The illusion of life being a simply ordered thing is supplanted by the realisation that the only real control we have is over our deaths. It’s not just a dramatic concern, but one that we deal with directly (and indirectly) in our society. It’s the question of the ‘right’ to die, and the question what significance an unexamined, ‘unmourned’ death has in comparison to conventional notions of dying as an event. (FG)
A Dream of Dying played at theSpace @ Surgeon's Hall - https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/dream-of-dying
Loneliness Swallowed Me Up- https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/may/28/emily-white-loneliness
Life-hating Loneliness- https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/suffer-the-children/201303/life-halting-loneliness
Sense and Nonsense: an essay dealing with the ethics of schizophrenia research- http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0920996498001285
A short essay on the mystery of mental illness- http://noelbell.net/resources/world-mental-health-day-resources/the-mystery-of-mental-illness/
Self-Determination: A Buffer Against Suicide Ideation- http://selfdeterminationtheory.org/SDT/documents/2012-Bureau_SaLTB.pdf