Review: Section 2
Image: Paper Creatures Theatre
Cam - Nathan Coenen
Kay - Alexandra Da Silva
Peter - Jon Tozzi
Rachel - Esmé Patey-Ford
Cam is the Golden-Boy.
He likes fruit, rugby, and dogs.
He's also just been sectioned.
And no-one knows why.
Many deem the thought of losing our minds unfathomable, but what happens when it strikes close to home?
At its heart this is a play that shines a light on the desperate and determined measures taken to reconnect with someone on the road to recovery.
After the success of their debut show 'Flood', Paper Creatures Theatre return with new hard hitting drama 'Section 2' by emerging playwright Peter Imms.
Directed by Georgie Staight (Into The Numbers, Finborough Theatre) and with an original score composed by Benjamin Winter this part verbatim drama is drawn from a personal experience of our playwright and hones in on an aspect of mental health that is rarely addressed in theatre; sectioning.
Performance dates: note that this show plays every Tuesday and Friday from 12 June to 6 July, though the festival of which it is a part plays from 11 June to 7 July.
Peter Imms' well-constructed, taught and poignantly sad play shows the painful suffering of a man's mental ill-health and his friends' frustration at his forced incarceation through sectioning.
If you're unfamiliar with that term, it is the legal means whereby a person can be detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983.
People are sectioned when they need to be urgently assessed and treated for their mental health problem.
There are a number of sections which allow people to be detained for varying amounts of time - you can read more about them on the Mind website.
Mr Timms's play (a part verbatim piece) is named after one such section which allows someone to be kept in hospital for up to 28 days.
That doesn't mean, however, that after the 28 day period the person will be released.
They might be kept in hospital for a further period depending on their diagnosis.
The focus of the story here is Cam (or Cameron) who is now coming to the end of his Section 2 stay in hospital.
Esmé Patey-Ford and Nathan Coenen - photo by Tim Hall Photography
The cause of his illness has not been determined, but he's receiving drugs to calm him and relieve some of his symptoms.
He's cared for in hospital by Rachel (Esmé Patey-Ford) who liaises with Cam's partner Kay (Alexandra Da Silva) and anyone else who visits, such as Cam's old friend Peter (Jon Tozzi).
Those four characters (each with their own interest in the sectioning order) are exceptionally and authentically played by a skilful cast, flawlessly orchestrated by Georgie Staight.
Kay just wants Cam back home with her and rails against Rachel who cannot provide all the answers Kay is seeking, but can only offer suggestions about how to keep her patient connected with his former life outside hospital.
The play is about how partners and friends can help those suffering mental ill health, but it also ably describes the frustration those players feel during a difficult, painful and prolonged process during which someone is being nursed back to health.
Jon Tozzi and Alexandra Da Silva - photo by Tim Hall Photography
That process of indeterminate length is also a key factor - this is no easy process with easy explanations or, sadly, easy and quick remedies.
But, as Georgie Staight's deftly-worked moments between scenes and at the end of the play ably demonstrate, it requires all involved acting in concert to achieve the end they all seek.
Though it's easy for most of us to think that we are unlikely to suffer a mental breakdown, what this piece shows is that we can all be prone to its ravages, inexplicably appearing almost from nowhere.
That alone provides us with appropriate awareness, but it also wakes us up to the the extensive effort required by all concerned and the stress which must be endured along the way.
Moving and poignant, this is not an easy play to watch, but it is powerfully written and enormously compelling thanks to finely-crafted performances.
Prior to seeing Section 2, I saw another of the season's plays called No One Is Coming to Save You which provides a salient contrast as a bold experimental piece of theatre (you can read the review of that here).
If you're going to venture out to The Bunker's Breaking Out Season you could take advantage of a double bill ticket to see both No One Is Coming to Save You and Section 2 - two strikingly different plays but which, in a way that's not easy to define, fit very well together.
Links and related content
ActDrop listing for The Bunker
Our show listing for Section 2
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