Thursday, 2 May 2013

It's all in the mind

Reality, that is. In both senses of the word. What's out there is only our interpretation of what's out there. The only thing we can be sure of is what goes on in our own heads. Right?

No, I don't really want to get into a philosophical discussion and anyway my opinion tends towards the opposite view - that there is a reality outside us which we can never fully comprehend. The reality we create inside ourselves has a good chance of being a delusion. Besides, we're usually not very interesting - each of us is little more than a collection of ignorance and prejudices that we disguise as rationality.

I fell into this reflective mood yesterday evening at a performance of Seth Jones' Reality, a two-act play that, like some dramatic TARDIS, has a tendency to drop into a theatre for a couple of performances and then dematerialise again. (Seth, I should point out, gave me the role of Steve Marks in Clouds of Grey, which will likewise exist in a second incarnation for only two nights at the Park 90 theatre next week.) Reality is about a woman whose inner demons and angels manifest themselves on stage. Neurotic, psychopathic, schizophrenic, mentally ill - I'm not sure which, if any, of these epithets apply - she argues with herself, commits violence on her (female) lover and encounters a therapist - not necessarily in that order. The writing is intelligent, the drama holds our attention and there are sizzling performances by all five players (it would be invidious to pick out any, so I won't mention Katharine Beresford, my acting partner in Clouds of Grey) and my attention was held throughout.

But . . .  it wasn't my Reality. I'm lucky, I suppose, in that I have few, if any inner demons (and certainly no interior angels). I get through daily life with the minimum of fuss and my self-doubt is manageable. I'm aware of my faults and have a reasonable opinion of my virtues. And because my interior life is relatively calm and ordered, I have little interest in it, except to occasionally look it over and wipe off any dirt, in the same way as I keep my kitchen reasonably clean.

Which means that other people's struggles with the voices in their head and their difficulties in dealing with the world around them do not engage me emotionally. I'm interested to see the characters on stage, but they do not touch my psyche. I suspect many others will have the same reaction, which means that while Reality will resonate strongly with people whose inner lives range from unsettled to chaotic, no matter how good the writing or the performances, it will not reach as an broad audience that its creator and performers would like.


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