Writers: Jon Haynes &David Woods
Reviewer: Deborah Klayman
Challenging the stigma or accepted treatment of an illness such as Schizophrenia can be difficult in any arena, yetJon Haynes &David Woods are attempting to do just that in their new workThe Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland.Both men have real-world experience of mental illness: Haynes was sectioned for six months in the 80s and Woods cared for family members who required support. The discovery that a technique called “open dialogue” was being used to dramatic effect in Finland led the pair to investigate further: when they did they found a holistic, family-centric approach firmly at its core, and one that offered an alternative to medication.
What this play offers, perhaps, is a deeper understanding of psychotic illness and removes some of the preconceptions that prevent people engaging with their own treatment or that of loved ones. Two plays occur simultaneously, divided by a plastic wall with screens and curtains. The audience is split between the two spaces but can hear both, allowing an insight into the reality of auditory hallucination. That division gradually breaks down, exposing the audience to a fluid exchange between the two and an opportunity to view it from different perspectives.
The drug Clozapine is mentioned in the play, a commonly prescribed anti-psychotic which can be incredibly effective, yet has an shocking range of side effects including dyskinesia, delirium and death. In the UK non-chemical treatments and therapies such as mindfulness, CBT and family therapy are becoming more popular, although they are generally still used in conjunction with medication.Eradication…challenges this apparent over-prescription, demanding instead that we question our preconceived ideas about mental illness and treatment, and suggesting we learn from a model that has achieved real success. The piece is intriguing, and while it is not the most succinct or snappy piece of theatre you will ever see, it provokes a discussion which is most certainly needed.
Runs until 24thAug