Creators: David Woods and Jon Haynes
Reviewer: Sophie Huggins
Creating a play from factual research that explores alternative treatments for mental illness, is not the easiest of tasks. However, through their writing, directing and acting, this is something that David Woods and Jon Haynes, artistic directors of Ridiculusmus, spiritedly aspired to do.
The dialogue written by the actors, is sensitive and witty, although sometimes the energy dips in its moment of silence. The animation Woods brings to his cardboard box makes the audience feel intimately involved with his character despite never seeing his face. The metaphoric image of a tattered, shabby box, cleverly representing the rut of being bound to a problem that seems easy to escape. But, from watching Woods’ struggling feet, it is clear that escaping, for Zach, is a completely impossible task; the permanent trap of being stuck to the cardboard with peeling parcel tape.
The set, designed by Jacob Williams is the epitome of bleakness, consisting of a grim, unembellished three-panel room that created a cold atmosphere for the warm humour to thrive. Although perfectly fitting with the style of the piece, observing a bare stage with only a cardboard box became a little isolating towards the end. If this was an outcome that Woods and Haynes were hoping for in alluding to the effects of PTSD, then they utterly succeed.
As a short piece of 60 minutes, the play is investable and relatable, bringing the topic of mental health and its possible treatments closer to home, through its use of innovative conventions and joyful play. Although at times its education outweighed its entertainment, it certainly provoked an interest in learning more about PTSD and as the play is quoted by Woods as an “invitation to find out”, it certainly achieved this.
Reviewed on 2 March 2017 : Image: Contributed