DramaReviewSouth West

Living With The Lights On – The Bikeshed Theatre, Exeter

Writer and Performer: Mark Lockyer
Director: Ramin Gray
Reviewer: Charlie Hackett

Mark Lockyer’s deeply personal and fascinating one-man show, Living With The Lights On, explores his experiences and struggles with his own mental health. All set for a glittering career with the Royal Shakespeare Company, his personal and professional life is quickly thrown into turmoil when he becomes extremely ill.

tell-us-block_editedSuch an intimate show could easily be an excuse for self-indulgence, but the audience is made to feel part of Lockyer’s story from the beginning. From the moment we enter the theatre, they find themselves warmly welcomed to their seats by Lockyer himself, graciously offering them cups of tea and a handshake at the door.

Lockyer continues to build a relationship with the audience throughout the show, always stepping beyond the Fourth Wall, questioning us and inviting us to share in his remarkable story. Somewhat unusually, Lockyer also takes the time to explain the show’s simple lighting and lack of set, saying that anything else is ‘not needed’ as the show itself is simply ‘a transaction’.

The lack of set undoubtedly helps the audience to focus completely on Lockyer’s pacey storytelling, which like his illness, can at times seem to be running at an exhausting speed. In fact, Lockyer plays each of his characters with such energy and vigour that at times he is visibly sweating and foaming at the mouth. Lockyer recounts the highs and inevitable lows of his own actions with refreshing, sometimes brutal honesty interspersed with some dark and deftly executed humour. What isn’t entirely clear, however, is just how much Living With The Lights On relies on dramatic license. Lockyer meets some particularly unpleasant characters on his journey and the audience is left wondering how much of his story is fact and how much is fiction.

What is clear,though, is that Living With The Lights On is never looking for the sympathy vote or to preach. Lockyer pays tribute to the many professionals that helped him regain his health and mentions the ‘thousands and thousands’ of other people who struggle with their own mental health.

Despite its serious subject matter, Living With The Lights On leaves the audience feeling uplifted and inspired and with the very important message that those suffering from mental illness can regain control of their lives.

Runs until 3 December 2016 | Image: Contributed

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The Southwest team is under the editorship of Holly Spanner. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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