Plays with characters suffering from defined illnesses ar fairly plentiful. Plays about illnesses are much less common. In Between the CracksDanusia Iwaszko has taken the theme of Borderline Personality Disorder and developed it into a play through improvisation and research derived through Suffolk Mind and its partnership with the Mission Impossible group.
It doesn’t make for easy viewing. Linda (Harriet Garbas) is a young woman who has had the condition since childhood; the trigger may have been an unsettled and abusive home life. She has a sympathetic case worker in Helen (Tracy Elster) and a long-suffering boy-friend in Jack (Gary Mackay). Most of the other people with whom she comes into contact, whether medical professionals or casual acquaintance, lack any undestanding of the conflicting forces warring for her mind and body.
The author is also the director. That’s a role-share which doesn’t always work, though in this instance it pays off. Rachael Canning has designed a very simple setting for this short tour with some clever lighting effects generated by Marc Zabroski. Linda’s “visions” are encapsulated by a strange hybrid girl – part playmate, part storybook fairy, part angel – played by Bryony Harding, by amplified voices from behind luridly lit screens and by manifestations of the even nastier aspects, notably the flat-headed masked creatures which herd her towards self-harm.
Drama, along with music, has an honourable history as therapy. Therapy as drama is perhaps slightly different. This play is a bold attempt to show “the other” to “the rest of us” and, of course, through its choice of tour venues the “rest of us” to “the other”. For a commiited and sympathetic audience it certainly works as a piece of theatre.