“Adult Child/Dead Child” by Claire Dowie
Nottingham New Theatre
Nottingham New Theatre
The play itself is a difficult watch because of the subject matter, but the message it gives is so powerful that if you walk out of that performing space unaffected, you must be made of stone.
The play deals with the realities of developing schizophrenia. It unlocks the daily realities and unlooked-for consequences of the condition from the perspective of the adult looking back on his confused and innocent child-self.
An incident involving an attempted hammer attack on his father makes perfect sense to him, and by explaining it from the child's point of view it makes a strange kind of sense to the audience too."An eye for an eye" as they say in the bible.
Such moments are potentially dark, but there are touches of humour and absurdity which lift the piece without undermining its seriousness.
His only comfort comes in the shape of his imaginary friend, Benji, who becomes company of sorts at first, only to turn into something more troubling and sinister as her condition worsens.
Alex Piechowski is a very brave, but talented man to take on a role like this but shows his talent as an actor. For 65 minutes he holds us in his spell with his retelling of the character's journey from a child to adult hood, Not only is it impressive that he has this power to keep is hanging off of every single word, but his memory power is immense.
When I went to "radio school" many years ago the first thing that they had everyone do was to talk about themselves for one minute. That may sound simple, but just try it!. Fortunately I was able to do this and passed the first test. Alex has to do this about "the child" for 65 times longer, and ok it was scripted, but to make it sound natural and unscripted takes talent. It takes not just a good actor, but a fine story-teller to pull this gem off.
And then there are the character add ons. The leg shaking, the fiddling with his clothes, the nervous eye twitches, the inability to remain in one place for too long. All of these things make the character alive and human, so we're not just listening to a monologue, we're experiencing the pain that this human being was put through.
The looping provided us with maybe what the child was hearing in his own head, repeated voices speaking to him, nit knowing who or what to listen to. So layered is this damaged character that you just want to give him a hug.
The ending is a beacon in this man's life though and I'm not going to say what that is, because it does release the pressure cooker feeling that this play, and its' wonderful writer, Claire Dowie creates within you.
Directed by Jess Donn, she and Alex, has succeeded in showing what loneliness is like from another viewpoint A viewpoint that hopefully none of us will, or have had experience of.
Produced by Charlie Basley (who I was so pleased to get to say hello to afterwards), proving that he is growing into an absolute theatre all rounder.
The lighting (Daniel McVey) adds that extra air of, I don't know if menace is the right description, but depression is probably too strong a word, something between the two.
This monologue incorporates poetry, projection (Amy Crighton) and live sound looping (Sound design by Izzy de Bono) and really explores being lonely, loneliness, recovery and that desperate need to be loved and to love.
This, like all of the productions that NNT have presented this season, has been thought-provoking, which is a brilliant for local theatre.
"Adult Child/Dead Child" is at the Nottingham New Theatre until Tuesday 20 November 2018 and with all tickets at just £3.00 there is absolutely no reason for this particular play not to be sold out every night