Catfish Therapy

By Ian Moore
Write Now Festival Liverpool
Friday 30th March 2012

Reviewed by Sue Callaghan Murray

On the opening night of the event Liverpool based playwright and event director Ian Moore was airing his new complex psychiatric tale about multiple identity. On entering the Actors Studio Theatre we were faced with a figure in a nightgown and sack covered head. With hands and feet bound to the chair Suzanne Collins shouted out, the house lights dimmed and we were off. Lynne Fitzgerald joined her for powerful verbal and physical exchanges that switched between the calmness of an episode of the Chaser to the heaviest scene from the Exorcist!

Half way in the roles reversed with Suzanne Collins portraying a smartly dressed administrator and Lynne Fitzgerald the night gowned oppressed. Gone was the pile of “subversive” children’s books and the boot had switched to the other foot. The lighting and sound design was extremely well executed and produced an element of intrigue most associated with 1960’s television. The characters however were starting to fall victim to the ferocity of the intense delivery and action. Nearing what was timed to be the end, the overall flow was beginning to flag and a very strong message of Schizophrenia almost appeared to have nowhere to go. It was quality acting, engaging and extremely plausible but now it had been firing-on-all six for a just a little too long.

Eventually along came the doctor (Richie Grice) who in a very brief concluding entrance finally gave away the keys to the kingdom. Despite reference to the condition D.I.D an element of self-interpretation had hung high in the balance for much of the time. Not only had the play noticeably overrun but I feel too much had been attempted in too short a time. I later learned that Collins, best remembered as former Brookside cast member Nikki Shadwick, had stumbled on the role by chance when she happened to be local to the casting. For me and what she ultimately brought to the stage, I was very glad she did. Catfish Therapy is one for those who like their drama with a generous crust and don’t mind having to work a little to get at the filling.

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