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The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland by Ridiculusmus at the Battersea Arts Centre

Published by: Carolin Kopplin on 4th Feb 2015 | View all blogs by Carolin Kopplin
2_Eradication_Richard Davenport.jpg
Jon Haines (Patient) and David Woods (Psychologist) --
Photo by Richard Davenport

My experience of you is invisible to you.

Ridiculusmus return to Battersea Arts Centre with a new show about mental illness entailing two interconnected stories that are simultaneously performed in the same theatre space. The audience is divided and seated on both sides of the stage, separated by net-curtained windows. As we witness one performance, the other is only audible. During the interval the audience switches sides and the action is replayed.

A mother who suffers from the first stages of psychosis is talking to her two sons about dinner and other day-to-day matters whilst a patient is having a therapeutic conversation with his psychologist in a mental institution. Occasionally the patient walks through the door over to the other side and becomes the sane elder son of the schizophrenic mother before he returns into the surgery to talk about his life as a famous writer of fiction. The psychologist seems to hear voices in his head. The boundaries between sane and insane are not clear which makes one wonder whether there is something like sanity at all.

3_Eradication_Richard Davenport.jpg
Photo by Richard Davenport

Obviously, the narrative involving the mother and her two sons happened before the patient was institutionalised - he is the eldest son and his younger brother was still alive. His brother's death might have triggered the patient's schizophrenia. When he returns to the room - his former home - he remembers events that occurred some time ago. The psychologist is going through a rather nasty divorce but who is his wife?

Watching this production poses rather a challenge. The fact that there are two performances being staged at the same time although one of them can only be heard, not seen, makes it hard to follow the action and can be quite confusing. The dialogue becomes blurry at times and one strains to understand what is going on. But I assume this is intentional. This is not a production to lean back and relax, one has to work out one's own conclusions.

Yet there is a lot of humour in the show, too. The patient who suffers from delusion of grandeur sees himself as a famous fiction writer and winner of the Nobel Prize and claims that he has written most of the important literature using the names of actually existing acclaimed writers as his noms de plume. The mother has interesting ideas about the birthplace of Dracula. And in between we get to see some accomplished Finnish folk dancing.

David Woods and Jon Haines, the artistic directors of Ridiculusmus, play the psychologist and his patient/the elder son. Richard Talbot and Patrizia Paolini convince as the younger son and the mother.

Obviously there is a therapy in Finland that involves the whole community, not only the psychologist and the patient, which has proved quite successful in cases of schizophrenia. Ridiculusmus embedded this idea in their challenging production which questions that there is something called normality.

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 14th February 2015
Battersea Arts Centre
Lavender Hill
London
SW11 5TN
https://www.bac.org.uk/

Running Time: 90 mins

Please note that the audience will be split in two during this performance.  If members of your group are booking separately but would like to sit together, please contact our Box Office on 020 7223 2223 to arrange.

More info about Ridiculusmus:
http://www.ridiculusmus.com/

Comments

2 Comments

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 3 years ago
    Thanks, Carolin. What an interesting presentation! I wonder if there would be advantage in having members of your party on both sides of the auditorium? Discussion after the performance would be interesting in terms of the interpretation of the narrative.
  • Carolin Kopplin
    by Carolin Kopplin 3 years ago
    I think so. There was a lady who had seen it before and was desperate to see it the other way around. It might add to your enjoyment of the performance by forming a more complete picture.
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