Imaginative treatment of mental health
This article is from 2012.
The visionary-idealist-romantic of the title is a French woman named Louise who is tormented by her bipolar disorder. As the show opens we find Louise in a hospital in England where she is receiving treatment. She’s got a good, caring nurse and a dear friend who comes to visit her regularly. Nevertheless, Julia’s overactive mind subjects her to a barrage of hallucinations, some delightful, others disturbing, which engage the young woman creativity as a painter, but which ultimately threaten to overwhelm her.
The hallucinatory bright highs and the dark depths the troubled protagonist experiences are given dramatic representation through an innovative combination of physical theatre and puppetry. It’s a very effective approach that’s alternately exhilarating and creepy, the latter most particularly during the appearances of a seductive stranger, a giant puppet that climbs out of the wardrobe in Louise’s room.
Unfortunately, these visually striking sequences are not matched by the straight dramatic scenes that connect them, which are poorly scripted and perfunctorily performed. Still, this is an imaginative treatment of an important subject.
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