Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

Laughing Horse @ The Brass Monkey – Cinema Room


Laughing Horse @ The Brass Monkey – Cinema Room On the dot of 12:15 Poppy Radcliffe bursts into the room and commands the space both physically and emotionally. Sectioned for the first time several years ago, she is here to tell her story, reclaim her narrative, get her life back on track and make some pertinent observations about mental health services along the way. A published poet, Radcliffe slips into rhyming couplets easily and is moving and composed. Her tale is littered with touches of black humour, which bring well-timed relief. Radcliffe was first sectioned at a time in…

Rating



Good

A raw and impassioned account of one woman’s mental health recovery, poetically delivered with laughter and anguish in equal measure.

On the dot of 12:15 Poppy Radcliffe bursts into the room and commands the space both physically and emotionally. Sectioned for the first time several years ago, she is here to tell her story, reclaim her narrative, get her life back on track and make some pertinent observations about mental health services along the way. A published poet, Radcliffe slips into rhyming couplets easily and is moving and composed. Her tale is littered with touches of black humour, which bring well-timed relief.

Radcliffe was first sectioned at a time in her life when she was at her most confident and professionally successful. Prepared to live her best life and make the world a better place, an unfortunate incident led to arrest and then being hospitalised. She was misdiagnosed as being bipolar (a nuanced diagnosis that is based on observed symptoms rather than chemical results from a blood test), which has had lasting consequences. Did you know that such a diagnosis is there forever, never to be removed from your medical records?

Once detained she was pretty much alone in a room with nothing to do for four weeks, other than relive the trauma. Mental health services, well, like any health service, have had funding reduced over the years, and so surprise, surprise – staff and facilities are under-resourced to the extent that any time spent on a mental health ward is a punishment in itself.

What is clear is the nonsensical approach taken to recovery. The focus in physical trauma is for the patient to become independent of medication. For mental trauma it is the opposite: the only goal is to stabilise the patient’s medication. Radcliffe continues to be on medication now, only because her doctors insist that the alternative is further hospitalisation.

This is a heartwarming, confident performance. Radcliffe establishes a relationship with the audience as she moves amongst them, and they in turn warm to her story and are keen to be supportive. There is a touch of the Hamlet to her character: inwardly reflective but at times prone to rash acts. At times she refers to her notes, which I suspect may be down to nervousness, but then turns it into a joke as she laughs and declares: “How can I forget THIS part of the story?!” The details she highlights are well chosen: such as the irony that the only book available to read on her first ward stay is Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist: a book that teaches you to turn down the negative voices in your life is possibly the least appropriate reading material ever for a patient with a bipolar diagnosis.

This production clearly serves as a cathartic exercise and is accompanied by her poetry book. The next tour, she promises, will be humorous – because there is always plenty of humour to be found on a mental health ward. I look forward to it.


Written & directed by:  Poppy Radcliffe

Sectioned has completed its current run at EdFringe 2023. Further information can be found on the artists website here.


By Sandra Winters

Writer | Author | Wordsmith Passionate about crafting stories that captivate and inspire. Published author of [Book Title]. Dedicated to exploring the depths of human emotions and experiences through the power of words. Join me on this literary journey as we delve into the realms of imagination and uncover the beauty of storytelling.