"Engaging and thought provoking journey"
by Judy Collins for remotegoat on 06/04/12

Enjoyable doesn't seem an appropriate word to describe An Unquiet Mind, although it was a pleasure to watch.

Written by David Patterson and shown as part of the Write Now Festival, Liverpool, the play hails to deal with abuse, homelessness and loss of identity and it does this in a subtle and engaging way.

There are strong performances from both Paul Codman (Private Topshop) and Carl Wharton (Landlord) as we take a journey inside Private Topshop's head. This isn't a pretty sight. Throughout the next 45 minutes we learn the tragic and systematic abuse that Topshop has endured in his life.

Bernard Merrick's direction twinned with Codman's gentle handling of Topshop makes us care for this sad character. The writing is interspersed with bits of comedy that almost make you feel guilty the moment you've laughed. Topshop's childlike quality leaves you feeling like you want to make all the hurt go away!

We see the Landlord, through a series of flashbacks, take on all of the abusive people who have affected Topshop and you understand what he's trying to forget, which is a lifetime of being made to feel worthless.

It all had a very Beckett feel to it, like a twisted Waiting For Godot, but instead of Godot the 2 characters were waiting for the chance to "calm your unquiet mind". And like all good theatre of the absurd plays (apart from Genet's where everyone dies), there was hope. Before his exit back into reality, Topshop asks if they had made progress. And I believe they had. At some level we were not only watching the rantings of a madman, but also a therapy session, where slowly, self worth and identity were being restored.

But I came away knowing that although this was a play and the actors can go home to their families and homes, there are far too many people who that isn't possible for. A sobering thought, but one that the play highlights incredibly well.

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