Wick Theatre Company celebrate with 75 years with dark Ayckbourn classic
Spokeswoman Susanne Crosby said: “The play’s central character is Susan who has had an accident in her garden and hit her head. Attended by classic comedic bumbling doctor Bill, she insists she is absolutely fine to her inattentive husband Gerald the Vicar and to her doting adoring husband Andy… but we soon find out things are far from fine. She switches between them from gloominess to sunshine and happiness with often hilarious results. The audience goes on the journey with Susan, experiencing both families with absolute reality, even though it’s clear something is very wrong and one family is not real at all. Susan unconsciously shifts between them without really paying it any attention until the fantasy starts melting into the reality and things start escalating.
“Biographer Paul Allen believes that this is actually based on Ayckbourn’s own life particularly his mother's breakdown in the 1950s and his son being at a cult in a community in California. Whatever the case, this play is known to be one of his most personal and one of his best; and the accuracy of the portrayal of Susan’s health clearly indicates direct experience.
“Most productions of this play have centred around playing the mental ill health of the central role of Susan and her skewed perceptions of reality which the audience witnesses.
"However, there are also physical signs of ill health accompanying the perceptions which actually show this character as having a head injury. Wick Theatre has partnered with Headway Sussex to understand more about acquired brain injuries which can be caused by something as simple as a concussion, or an illness such as a stroke.”
Andy Crosby, manager of Headway Sussex, said: ““There is still so little commonly known and understood about brain injury. It can come across as a mental ill health episode or physical disability or a learning disability – or any combination of those.
"Something that looks like mental ill health may actually have a physical cause, which means the support and treatment will be very different. Understanding head injuries more will mean so many more people can be treated, supported and start living the lives that they used to.”
Director Mike Wells says knows that while this play is set in that world, it will entertain people who like Ayckbourn and comedy alike: “It is a highly amusing play. Even though there is a seriousness to the issue affecting the central character Susan, it has all the quirky and odd characters that you come to know and love through Ayckbourn’s writing.”
Woman in Mind runs Wednesday to Saturday, June 7 to 10 at 7.45 each evening. Book through the Wick Theatre website: www.wicktheatre.co.uk or Ticket Source 0333 666 3366 (transaction fee applies on telephone bookings).
Woman in Mind (December Bee) is the 32nd play by playwright Alan Ayckbourn. It was premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough in 1985.