COSMIC FEAR or THE DAY BRAD PITT GOT PARANOIA / Empty Deck

From their living room, two men and a woman become increasingly overwhelmed by news of natural catastrophes and the increased evidence of climate change as one of the biggest contemporary challenges for society to face up to.

Christian Lollike’s characters carve themselves a route out of their anxiety and helplessness in the face of global disasters by taking turns to stand in for Brad Pitt, and occasionally Angelina Jolie, as they seek to come up with a blockbuster that might just change the world.

The play rapidly unravels around the characters’ attempts at filming their own DIY Hollywood “eco-calypse” with a smartphone streaming to a screen at the back of the stage.

Lollike’s script is constructed over multiple layers, in a distinctly postmodern voice blurring our ability (at times) to identify who is speaking - might it be the characters in the play? the characters played by the characters in the play? or the actors as themselves?

The paranoia referred to in the title - more accurately paranoid schizophrenia - is present throughout the piece and explored in various guises. From the formal exploration of the illness in the writing itself, to the direct references to its symptoms and possible manifestations in the text and well-worn stage representations of madness (loud voices speaking at once, repeated laughter etc.).

Cosmic Fear’s artistic exploration of paranoid schizophrenia provides a lens through which to highlight the links between capitalism, climate change and mental (ill) health.

In art and poetry the weather has often provided rich images to express complex thoughts, feelings and emotions - it wouldn’t be difficult, for example to read Paul Verlaine’s Autumn Song as a poem about depression developing in old age.

With Cosmic Fear… however, the weather (cast as the Villain) is no longer a way to simply illustrate our relationship to our mental health, but a timely warning that the consequences of climate change to our environments are now directly impacting our sense of being. (LB)

Cosmic Fear or The Day Brad Pitt Got Paranoia is on at 15.00 at Bedlam Theatre until August 28th. Wheelchair Access, Level Access - https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/cosmic-fear-or-the-day-brad-pitt-got-paranoia

Symptoms of schizophrenia: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Schizophrenia/Pages/Symptoms.aspx

On Paul Verlaine: http://www.rosings.com/paul_verlaine.html

On impact of climate change on mental health: http://grist.org/climate-energy/what-is-climate-change-doing-to-our-mental-health/