Theatre review: Give Me Your Love

How does Zack get out of his box? The treatment of mental illness is explored by Ridiculusmus.
How does Zack get out of his box? The treatment of mental illness is explored by Ridiculusmus.
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Edinburgh Festival Fringe: In The Eradication Of Schizophrenia In Western Lapland, the first part of a trilogy on the theme of innovative treatments of mental ­illness, ­Ridiculusmus divided the audience and sat them on opposite sides of a two-way set.

Summerhall (Venue 26)

****

The show you saw depended on the luck of the draw. It was a bold, theatrical manifestation of the schizophrenic theme.

In the second instalment, Give Me Your Love, the ­company plays a different theatrical game as it turns its attention to post-traumatic stress disorder. This time, the warped joke is that we don’t see the performers at all. Or, at least, very little of them.

We catch no more than the odd sighting of the feet of David Woods as war veteran Zack, who spends the whole play taking cover in a cardboard box pockmarked with bullet holes. John Haynes, meanwhile, is either an offstage voice or a disembodied arm reaching round the locked door into the dingy Port Talbot flat, realised in stained and grubby detail by designer Jacob Williams.

So distressed is Zach by his frontline experience that he can only get by in hiding. He is distrustful of everything, from his sympathetic wife to the unopened mail.

His friend and fellow band member Ieuan, played by Haynes, patiently cajoles him, hoping that an ecstasy pill may liberate his mind enough to help him confront his demons.

It’s about as far from an orthodox health-education drama as you can get, the ­dialogue as comically surreal as the situation is bleak and bewildering. Using MDMA to get out of his box may or may not be the best way for Zach to get out of his literal box, but it seems to open possibilities worth exploring.

Until 27 August. Today 10:15am.