Juliette has a big decision to make. Should she marry the love of her life? But it’s not that simple. Not only is he the love of her life, he is the reason she is still alive.
We are taken on a decision lead tour of Juliettes’ life which builds to the point where she is now. From her first experiences of otherness to the first point of her taking control in her life and her eating disorders, her dalliances with self harm to the critical moment where she has written the note, she has the knives and she’s ready for the final act.
This show is not about the philosophy of free will, causality or determinism. Kant and Spinoza don’t even enter the room. From the outset we explore the pathology of cognitive distortion. If we decide one way we may hurt, upset or knowingly please, we may experience guilt or pleasure, we may be loved more or rejected. Decision making can be fraught.
We are slowly exposed to some of Burtons’ psychiatric history, her diagnoses and symptoms. Her previous decisions and impulses take on a new gravitas. For most people certain decisions or actions are easy, for example getting out of bed is just something we do, an almost automatic process.
What if you are so depressed you are unable to get out of bed, clothe or feed yourself? What if you are so gripped by anxiety, decision making becomes impossible? What if the only viable option feels like suicide? For some, there is no alternative, for some though at the crucial moment, almost in that final act they find a reason to survive, to sustain, to want to realise the potential of the most meaningful version of their life.
The ultimate choice we make maybe whether to live or die, to kill ourselves or not. Suicide generally isn’t a laughing matter but Burton found her reason to live and the strength to share it. We are taken to the point under her bed where, with knife cutting flesh the phone rings, missed messages from her lover and the sound of the key in the door.
The awkward discomfort in the room is palpable, but it is a subject which needs discussing. In 2014 one person took their own life every 40 seconds. One in four will be affected by serious mental health issues in the coming year. The statistics are staggering yet we are still not addressing the issues. There is still a disparity between the funding and waiting lists of physical health and mental health services. The stigma of discussing mental health only compounds the impact on our wellbeing. It is definitely time to make a decision, as the mental health foundation say it’s ‘Time to Change’. (AM)
Juliette Burton: Decision Time is on at 16.30 at Gilded Balloon Teviot until 28th August (not 15th). Wheelchair Access, Level Access, Wheelchair Accessible Toilets - https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/juliette-burton-decision-time
Assisted Suicide: The Musical by Liz Carr premieres at Unlimited Festival at the Royal Festival Hall on September 10th and 11th: http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/assisted-suicide-the-musical-97416
The Suicide by Suhayla El-Bushra, after Nikolai Erdman (1928), recently at the National Theatre: https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/the-suicide
Prevention of young suicide: https://www.papyrus-uk.org/