The Possibility of Colour
Tree Fish Productions
The Media Factory, UCLan, Preston
Pete Carruthers is a man on a mental health mission.
As writer, director, producer and an actor in this absorbing studio production he’s also clearly developed an effective marketing, promotional and publicity expertise that would shame many larger theatre production companies
He’s mined personal experience, as well as the help of professionals in the field of mental healthcare - and drama - over several years, to deliver a play which he would be the first to admit remains a work in progress.
That’s because The Possibility of Colour seems to be constantly re-shaped by feedback from post-show Q&As from audiences, including the hundreds of student nurses who have been attending as part of their training.
Not that there’s anything too clinical about the play’s current shape and style.
Carruthers is Joseph, an introverted architect with unfulfilled designs on the relationship he has with his business partner Helen (Amy Revelle). Matters are further complicated when his sister Aisling (Rachel Marwood) comes back into his life after an absence of 14 years. All three performances are uniformly excellent.
Haunting all their lives is the issue of whether to take The Implant, a treatment offered (or sometimes imposed) by a dystopian Big Brother-style corporation called Vigil. Imagine Alexa with added threat.
If you think that’s all a little dense, you’d be right. And then matters get darker.
Each of the characters has an issue, whether it’s hearing voices, experiencing tastes through words, or neurodiversity – the acceptance that some of us are just different . . .
There’s a particularly chilling moment when Vigil’s artificial intelligence takes over Aisling’s diagnosis. You have to hope this week’s Health Secretary doesn’t get to pick up on this idea.
So, much to process, and enhanced theatrically through a sound and projected light design that adds its own layers to a disturbing and provocative production.
Carruthers’ stated aim is to add to the ethical debate over who gets to decide who is ‘normal’. The possibility is we may never know, but in the meantime the lively post-show Q&A at this performance clearly demonstrates that the discussion remains vital.
The production continues at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, November 29/30 and then as an online screening December 1/2.
Reviewer: David Upton