‘Fast. Funny. Original.’ These are the three words Lizzie Lewis, playing the role of Max in Big Mind Theatre’s Going Slightly Mad, would use to describe the production that will be performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year.
Going Slightly Mad is a piece of original writing, based on personal experience, that explores the experiences of Max – who has just been sectioned and doesn’t know why.
Discussing the production, Katrina Woolley, founder and artistic director of Big Mind Theatre, defined the collective’s aspiration as a desire ‘to explore the relationship of personal and societal well-being with performance’, with Going Slightly Mad being a production that ‘is an honest and unflinching account of the mental health services in the United Kingdom. It is based on the writer’s own experience of being sectioned with psychosis and is both humorous and uncompromising in equal measure.’
After performances both at Buxton Fringe and in London, as well as a slot during the Edinburgh University Theatre Company’s BedFest at the start of this year, we spoke to Lewis about her thoughts on playing Max and her experience with the production so far.
When asked about the challenges that have come with the role, she explained: ‘the most challenging [part] has been how exposing playing this part has been, in that I really have nothing to hide behind in this play, not an accent or an elaborate costume, which is scary but obviously very liberating.’ Despite this challenge, she reflected on how one of the best moments was ‘…[receiving] positive feedback from people who have direct experience with the subject matter of sectioning and psychosis, as it shows how accurately and realistically our show portrays this theme.’
Considering what the play brings to the Festival, Lewis described how ‘this show brings an emotional powerful new perspective to the Fringe; it is a play which epitomises the Fringe, in that it is made by people who love the idea and believe in it, and it is new and vibrant and brings a voice to an issue often under-explored or written off.’
Lewis also went on to discuss how the production is ‘important and different because Michael Hajiantonis (writer and director) has taken a true experience and real events and translated them into a piece of theatre that is experimental and eclectic.’ On the topic of the tour itself, Lewis was extremely positive, describing how ‘touring was exhausting and overwhelming, but it was one of the best experiences of my life’ – which is no surprise given the group received a raving review from Anna Walker, in which the production was described as ‘a brilliantly acted and staged piece of theatre and a refreshing take on mental illness.’
Going Slightly Mad promises to be a standout production at Fringe this year.
If you want to find out more about Big Mind Theatre, you can look at their website here.
The collective has also provided an Anxiety-Free Fringe Guide with advice ranging from locations to discover peace and quiet, to lifestyle tips to keep a healthy balance during the festivities which can be accessed here.
Going Slightly Mad
Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49)
Runs 2-16 August (excluding Mondays)
Buy tickets here
Image: Mihaela Bodlovic (photography) and Michael Black (design)