Normal/Madness opens with a quote from French writer and film director Marguerite Duras who said 'Our mothers always remain the strangest, craziest people we've ever met.' As I contemplated this I thanked my lucky stars for my own positively sane mother and feared I'd be unable to connect and relate to Kirsty McKenzie's (Fiona Geddes) story. But as I made my way out of the Pleasance Courtyard suppressing my sobs, I realised I needn't have worried.
Based on real-life events, Normal/Madness is a solo show that shines a light on the subject of mental health from the perspective of someone who has witnessed it first hand, initially through growing up as a carer for her mother, a Schizoaffective disorder sufferer and latterly as a Fiancée to Patrick, who has bipolar disorder.
Geddes' performance is one that is brave, frank and downright devastating. Her vivid depiction of what life has been like since the age of ten flicks between retrospective conversation to harrowing flashbacks. Scientific explanation of the illness is also presented in the form of verbatim conversations with medical professionals, which act as an effective vehicle on our journey into the overwhelming effects mental health has had on Kirsty.
It's been several years since I last shed a tear in the theatre, watching Blood Brothers at the Phoenix, but I must admit that tears of utter sadness and sympathy pricked my eyelids on several occasions and a lump the size of a meaty haggis still burdens my throat as I write this review. This lasting impression, above anything else, is surely a sign of great theatre.