Give Me Your Love review at Battersea Arts Centre, London – ‘a provocation’
Except for a brief moment when Jon Haynes darts across the stage in his underpants, neither performer in Ridiculusmus’ new show is visible on stage.
This is the second part of what will be a trilogy exploring alternative mental health treatments. Part one, The Eradication of Schizophrenia In Western Lapland, looked at the ‘Open Dialogue’ method of treating schizophrenia.
This show – less structurally flashy, but much more moving –is a two-hander about MDMA-assisted therapy for sufferers of PTSD. Basically you give patients ecstasy in order to help them open up about their traumas.
It’s Ridiculusmus at their best, with their signature blend of silliness and seriousness. David Woods plays Zach, a veteran who can’t leave his cardboard box. He’s in an empty, dirty flat in Port Talbot. Mud and grime streak the walls. Jon Haynes is his mate Ieuan, who finds some street ecstasy for Zach and, through a crack in the door, they talk trauma.
Between the dry-humoured dialogue are sudden explosions of noise, music and light. One scene collapses the intensity of a warzone with the fierceness of a dancefloor, coloured lights flashing from Zach’s box, nodding to the dual uses of MDMA as rave drug and therapy aid.
It’s a bewildering, frustrating piece as Haynes and Woods hold the play in constant states of tension (will Woods ever leave his box?), with a series of rug-pulls to keep us rapt.
Above all, it’s a provocation: if there’s stigma around mental health – there is – and stigma around use of illegal drugs – there is – then what hope in hell does this kind of therapy have?