When Jade Byrne was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as the age of four, her life changed irrevocably. Ahead lay a lifetime of self-medication and blood sugar checks, while countering general ignorance about the condition from the public.
Pricks, written and performed by Byrne, discloses how diabetes has had an impact on both her psychological development and consequently her growth as an actor.
Byrne relates her journey, interspersed with recorded testimony from others in both poetry and prose. These guests are represented by neatly stacked shelves of insulin on Alison Ashton’s suitably clinical set. There’s information on glucose monitors, alarmed patches and insulin injections, as her life becomes a balancing act of medical cause and effect. Beneath Byrne’s cheery demeanour and gentle Darlington burr there’s a pressure bubbling under the surface to live as normal a life as possible.
It’s not just Byrne’s medication that needs to be kept in check but her frustration too. Ignorance and prejudice are rife but the story is given greater perspective when we hear from those who do understand and keep watch. The words and actions of her family, and eventually her husband and children, bring warmth and humanity to an already revelatory piece of theatre.