The Shape of The Pain at Battersea Arts Centre

Sunday 28 January 2018

Off-West End - Shows

Chris Thorpe and Rachel Bagshaw's award-winning show about a love affair seen through the eyes of someone with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, heads for Battersea Arts Centre from 20 February.
The Shape of The Pain at Battersea Arts Centre

Image: Battersea Arts Centre

In a Fringe First award-winning show about trying to communicate something unknowable, writer Chris Thorpe weaves together director Rachel Bagshaw's personal experiences of living with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) with a fictional narrative about a love affair.

Using sound, light and video alongside fully integrated captioning and audio description, The Shape of the Pain attempts to explain what Rachel's chronic pain sounds like, looks like and feels like.

The production was made in consultation with Rachel's doctor, a consultant in pain at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, as well as other clinical professionals, and debuted at Summerhall at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017.

The Shape of the Pain follows a woman who attempts to express the physical pain that she lives with day in and day out.

When she meets someone new, they have to learn how to navigate life, love and the pain together.

Pain is notoriously tricky for doctors to analyse, requiring patients to give subjective reports of what they feel, and how much; The Shape of the Pain asks whether others can ever really understand our pain.

Performed by Hannah McPake in a duet with Melanie Wilson's extraordinary sound design, Bagshaw and Thorpe explore the concept of never-ending pain and the unexpected joy that can be found whilst living with it.

Here's the show trailer ...

Rachel Bagshaw said:

"The Shape of the Pain is a unique experience for an audience, as they gradually become immersed in the extra-sensory world which I experience with my condition.

The show feels hugely important as we endeavour to engage with how we talk about pain, and how the shadows it can create also let in colour and light.

Using creative access as part of the aesthetic also opens the show up to all audiences". 

Rachel Bagshaw makes innovative theatre which uses sound to tell stories.

She is also co-founder of Blazon Theatre, currently developing Icons by Paula B Stanic.

Previous work includes Hamlet, (Young Vic), Resonance at the Still Point of Change (Unlimited Festival, South Bank Centre), The Rhinestone Rollers, Just Me, Bell (Graeae).

She was Resident Assistant Director at the Young Vic from 2010-11 and previously led the education programme at disabled-led theatre company Graeae.

She is an associate artist at Wilton's and The Bush Theatre and an Associate Director for RADA Outreach.

Chris Thorpe is an award-winning playwright and theatre maker.

He is Associate Artist at the Royal Exchange, Manchester - work for them includes There Has Possibly Been An Incident and the upcoming The Mysteries.

Other theatre work includes Victory Condition and The Milk of Human Kindness for the Royal Court and Beowulf for the Unicorn.

He also has ongoing collaborations with Rachel Chavkin produced by China Plate (Confirmation/Status), Lucy Ellinson (TORYCORE), mala voadora (Overdrama/House-Garden/Dead End/Your Best Guess) and Hannah Jane Walker (The Oh Fuck Moment/I Wish I Was Lonely).

Chris was a founder member of Unlimited Theatre and is an Associate of Live Art/ Theatre company Third Angel.

China Plate is an independent theatre studio launched in 2006 that works with artists, venues, festivals and funders to challenge the way performance is made, who it's made by and who gets to experience it.

The company are also Associate Producers at Warwick Arts Centre where they develop and commission new work, Artistic Associates at the New Wolsey Theatre where they are Directors of PULSE Festival, Programmers of New Directions (the NRTF showcase), and producers of innovative development programmes including The Darkroom, The Optimists (producer training) and The First Bite and Bite Size Festivals and partners with The Place, The NRTF and Take Art on the Rural Touring Dance Initiative.


"I don't have to remember being in pain.

I'm not sure that's something we can do.

And in my case, it's irrelevant.

You can't remember something that's still happening."

One woman attempts to articulate her experience of physical pain.

Pain with no apparent cause.

Also, she's met someone, and they want to make this work.

Words and an original sound score combine to create an explosive dialogue about love and perception.

An experiment in how we talk about pain - and if we ever do that in a way someone else can understand.

A Scotsman Fringe First award-winning show exploring life in extremity and the joy that can be found there.


Hannah McPake



Developed by Rachel Bagshaw and Chris Thorpe

Conceived by Rachel Bagshaw

Written by Chris Thorpe

Composer: Melanie Wilson
Director: Rachel Bagshaw
Designer: Madeleine Girling
Lighting: Joshua Pharo
Movement: Raquel Meseguer
Video designer: Joshua Pharo
Production: China Plate


Battersea Arts Centre
Lavender Hill
SW11 5TN


From: Tuesday 20 February 2018

Closed: Saturday 10 March 2018


Standard: £12.50

Concessions: £10


Show website
ActDrop full listing for The Shape of The Pain

China Plate

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome - Wikipedia

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