No quick fixes for this effective drama
Between the Cracks, by Danusia Iwaszko, Pulse Festival, Sir John Mills Theatre, Ipswich, June 6.
This play was commissioned to highlight the condition known as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) which produces a range of distressing and disabling problems for a significant number of people, having a profound effect on their own lives and the lives of those who care for them.
Iwaszko’s script is the result of a project involving the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk Mind and people who have fallen victim to the disorder. A series of workshops was held to examine real-life experiences and to allow actors to use their performance skills to try to capture the emotions involved.
Issue-based plays can be preachy and heavy-going but this production sparkled in terms of narrative quality and dramatic impact. The lighting design was brilliant and the creation of a sound-track featuring Elvis Presley “heartache” songs was inspired.
Linda, a BPD sufferer, played superbly by Harriet Garbas, struggles to live a normal life – despite the support of her boyfriend, Jack, and psychiatric health worker, Helen.
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Garbas explores the light and dark corners of Linda’s mind - revealing the torment of her unhappy, abused childhood and the demons (portrayed in the play by stunningly designed masked characters) she just cannot identify. She finds it difficult to leave her flat and, as with manic depressives, experiences both desperate lows and also elating highs.
Tracy Elster, as strait-laced Helen, brought a reserved, social worker-style kindness to the role of Helen while Gary Mackay’s happy-go-lucky Jack was engulfed by frustration at Linda’s behaviour and his failure to help.
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Elster, Mackay and the excellent Bryony Harding played a range of other characters.
This was a fast-paced, episodic production which was tightly directed by Iwaszko. It provided no quick-fix “cures” for BPD but it effectively used drama to highlight the existence of the disorder and the need for greater social understanding and support for sufferers.