Light Within Darkness
30 June 2013
La Mama Theatre
to 30 June
Sitting in the always-welcoming La Mama courtyard before the show, a seemingly grumpy dude in an orange shirt and well-grown grey beard tells two people off for talking when he is. Once he has everyone's attention, he asks if any of us "feel sad, politically impotent or the world is not working for you".
He goes on to tell us that this is normal and reminds us there are remedies outside of the pharmaceutical industry.
This is Lloyd Jones and he devised, designed and directed Light Within Darkness in collaboration with a 20-member ensemble and the contribution of many more in a process that began last year.
This isn't neat and tidy scripted narrative theatre. It's an experience that changes each night and for every member of the audience.
Starting with a frustrated anger about the medicalisation of normal (if troubled) emotional and physical conditions and the quick-fix diagnoses and dispensing of anti-depressants and the like, it's a show that starts in a far-too- familiar waiting room with numbers and magazines, slides into a Last-Supper tableau of frightening normality and continues to play with and stress that it's ok to not feel perky every day; that it's ok to feel, even if the feeling isn't nice.
As someone who received a quick fix diagnosis of depression and didn't believe it, I was with this show from its premise. Turned out, my diagnosis was incorrect; I had most of the symptoms of "here's a script to make your brain better", but they indicated a different illness. I now take one of those drugs, but am so glad that I refused the initial script because it would have made me feel worse.
Photo by Rick Evertsz