Norwich Eye speaks to James Meteyard about his forthcoming show
ELECTROLYTE – JUNE 14
An imaginative and moving story of a woman’s quest for direction following the loss of a loved one is on its way to Norwich Playhouse.
Electrolyte is presented by the Oliver Award-winning company Wildcard, and comes to the city as part of its first UK tour fresh from winning both the Mental Health Fringe Award and the Best Newcomer Title at last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Taking to the stage on June 14, it tells the story of a woman called Jessie who is dealing with the recent suicide of her father. She follows singer-songwriter Allie to London hoping to reconnect with her mother here too, but discovers her visit may not give her the directions she wanted.
The show takes an innovative approach to story-telling as it is written entirely in spoken-word poetry and performed by six actor-musicians.
Its writer/director James Meteyard, who also stars in the production, explains more to Norwich Eye.
Tell us about the production. Why did you decide to explore mental health as a topic?
I’ve always been interested in mental health as a subject. A lot of friends have dealt with depression, anxiety and bipolar, and for some, this has led to suicide. I was galvanized to write this story when a close family member went through a psychotic episode. I was amazed by both the power of the brain but also, as I researched psychosis, how particular to an individual it is. I wanted to write a story from an individual’s perspective that gave some insight into what it must be like to go through psychosis but also that championed recovery and togetherness. Ultimately I wanted to diffuse the idea that mental health problems are abnormal… they simply aren’t.
What sort of research did you need to do to ensure the piece was accurate and reflected the issues well?
The piece also deals with depression so spoke to people who I knew had suffered/were suffering with depression. I also watched a lot of documentaries on a variety of mental health conditions and was very close to my family member when they went through psychosis. From all of this I tried to work out what the similarities were and, although every condition is so personal, tried to get a sense of what ‘triggers’ could lead someone into psychosis. In the end I just had to start writing and trust that my knowledge and own sensitivity was enough to deal with this complex and sensitive subject well.
It clearly got a great reaction. Tell us about the audience reaction and also how it felt to get recognition in Edinburgh
Edinburgh was extraordinary! In all of the logistics and difficulties of getting a show to the Fringe I’d almost forgotten why I’d written it, so when the audiences leaped up at the end and came to share their experiences and thoughts and feelings, it was totally overwhelming. We then received some lovely reviews and awards but it was the audiences that made it. So many people wanted to chat about their experiences, or share things they have never felt they could speak about. Some people returned up to eight times. I’ve never experienced anything like it and I don’t think I ever will again. It was incredible.
Finally, if people in Norwich are still not sure about whether or not to come, what would you say to them?
Come along. I promise you won’t regret it. It’s a night a theatre which you won’t forget and will have you smiling, laughing, gasping and feeling like you want to go and give your mates a hug. The music is lovely, the story-telling is wonderful and the cast very talented.
Electrolyte, Friday 14 June at 8pm. Tickets £15, and £10 for students and Under-18s.
To book, log onto www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk or call the box office on 01603 598598.