Hearing Voices In The Eradication Of Schizophrenia In Western Lapland
This ambitious piece of theatre written by Jon Haynes and David Woods explores the effects of psychosis by plunging its audience into a chaos that leads us all to question the relationship between truth and delusion. The audience witnesses two interconnected stories, acted out simultaneously on a stage divided by net-curtained windows, performed by the same characters at different times in their lives.
On one side, it's the breakdown of a mother (Patrizia Paolini), where mundane demands from the children about dinner and who’s sleeping where become absurd in the light of her increasingly baffling responses. On the other other side, we are party to the therapy sessions of oldest son Richard (Jon Haynes) many years later in a mental institution, revealing the instability of his father and doctor (John Gorick) as much as his own.
The innovative staging allows each side of the story to weave in and out of each other and in the show’s best moments voices clash, echo and imitate, leaving you with an unsettling sense of losing your own grasp on reality.
The script is witty and tightly crafted with the chaos of the action made more absurd and hilarious by the dialogue of characters each as self-absorbed as the next in a world which could be inside any of their heads. Richard’s acute awareness of his personal reality and the behaviour of those around him throw the binaries of ‘sane’ and ‘mad’ into question. Haynes’s performance stands out in particular, having an emotional and a physical intensity that is both captivating and convincing.
The disorientation the play invokes in its audience is both enjoyable and unsettling. Moments of humour are cut through with a sense of falling backwards through space; there is little – perhaps too little – in the way of plot certainty to grasp onto and you are left grappling for meaning as ‘reality’ moves in and out of focus.
The show is not perfect in its execution, but its remarkable originality both conceptually and in its staging make it a provocative and compelling experience.
By Savannah Whaley
The Eradication Of Schizophrenia In Western Lapland runs at the Battersea Arts Centre until the 14th February (and pops up in a few other London venues afterwards). Tickets £12/£15. Londonist saw this play on a complimentary ticket.
Last Updated 09 October 2015