DRUGS

Give Me Your Love // Ridiculusmus

Being stuck in a box is the central image of Give Me Your Love, both as a metaphor and as a literal attempt by the central character to deal with PTSD from military service. A former member of the Welsh Guards haunted by his experiences in Iraq, Zach hides within and speaks from inside his pockmarked cardboard shelter. This first box is contained within another, the grimy walls of a dilapidated flat, another four walls to keep people out and away from his damage. The voices which intrude from the outside corridor, a wife and a friend, are trying to offer help without adequate support from a government that makes cynical use of its soldiers.

Combat stress, PTSD and other mental health issues are endemic to veterans, compounded today by the nefarious project of austerity and a culture of silence (particularly for men). The turn towards self-medication, like the self-prescribed MDMA cure pursued by Zach, occurs when other effective treatments are unavailable. As mental health services are cut by governments, defunded and under-supported, more and more people are cut adrift, even when their injuries are the result of their national service. MDMA has proved remarkably successful in clinical trials, but such initiatives occupy a bleak confluence of political blindspots – the trauma of war and the scars it leaves, the effectiveness of a drug long demonised and the recognition that what has already been offered has been markedly inadequate.

Whilst men and women are still sent to kill in the name of a nation, they are owed the support and medicine to deal with the after-effects of this responsibility. Whether, as Zach’s delirious monologue suggests, he witnessed a heinous decapitation or is simply traumatised by the lack of action during his tour, clinical innovation through projects like MDMA therapy deserve the support of the countries that sends it citizens to work as soldiers. War is hell, but a purgatory of distress and flashbacks is no acceptable journey home.

-       Lewis Church

 

Links relevant to this diagnosis:

Give Me Your LoveRidiculusmus

Combat Stress – The Veteran's Mental Health Charity

Treating PTSD with MDMA-Assisted Therapy

MDMA for PTSD?Live Science

Concerned Clinicians and Researchers Network

War Neuroses: Netley Hospital, 1918 – Wellcome Archive

BIT OF SUNSHINE / Bloody Deeds Productions in Association with Kilter Theatre

BIT OF SUNSHINE / Bloody Deeds Productions in Association with Kilter Theatre

How do you write anxiety? How do you act it? Two questions that present wildly unsatisfactory answers. There are the obvious ways, the tics, the coiled up physical tensions, the wild, unkempt hair, the wildly roving eyes. There’s the breathy, machine guy delivery of dialogue, or the visible signs of ‘nervous breakdown’. 

THE HOURS BEFORE WE WAKE / Tremolo Theatre

THE HOURS BEFORE WE WAKE / Tremolo Theatre

Judging by the extreme rarity of mobile phones, tablets, or even laptops on stage, the theatre world has barely caught up with the technological realities of the present, let alone the future. Tremolo Theatre’s The Hours Before I Wake doesn’t step too dramatically beyond the realities of the world we live in. But its commitment to representing a social media-rich, technologically-dense world makes it feel unusual - a sci-fi satire that’s close to home.

HIP / Kriya Arts

HIP / Kriya Arts

Hip is an hour drifting through the Jungian collective unconsciousness; during the performance, Jolie Booth explores the serendipity of finding uncanny parallels with past lives. Based around found objects, Hip is a semi-autobiographical one woman show that starts by introducing us to a location caught between two timelines and personalities: the home of Anne Clarke during 60s bohemian Brighton, and a squat established by Jolie in 2002.

TORCH / Flipping the Bird

TORCH / Flipping the Bird

The setting for Torch is a narrow one: its narrator has locked herself in a toilet cubicle at a nightclub, unable to summon the confidence to storm the dancefloor despite plenty of shots and a snort of coke. Within its confines, she journeys across her past, reflecting on the relationships and sexual experiences that shaped and eroded her sense of self.

I'VE SNAPPED MY BANJO STRING, LET'S JUST TALK / Scott Agnew

I'VE SNAPPED MY BANJO STRING, LET'S JUST TALK / Scott Agnew

Long before his HIV diagnosis, Agnew needed another for his mental health, but the GP he saw wrote him off successively as an alcoholic, a food addict, a gambler, a sex addict and more, without recognising the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

FRONTAL LOBOTOMY / Jeu Jeu la Foille

FRONTAL LOBOTOMY / Jeu Jeu la Foille

Burlesque poet Jeu Jeu la Foille (Victoria Hancock) explores the 20th Century medical practice of frontal lobotomy in her show of the same name, drawn together with her own thoughts and experiences, and the life and music of Tom Waits.

TANK / Breach

TANK / Breach

Dr Doolittle may have wanted to talk to the animals, but in the 1960s NASA was determined to make them speak English. In a spectacular act of hubris, the agency had decided that if any aliens came to earth, we should attempt to communicate with them in the manner of an aristocrat abroad – slowly, loudly and in perfect English.