Can you make a comedy about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? In Give Me Your Love, award-winning theatre company Ridiculusmus prove that you can.
David Woods is Zach, a war veteran suffering from PTSD. Zach’s trauma is visualised in the cardboard box he remains in for the duration of the performance, with only his hands and legs visible. Jon Haynes, meanwhile, performs as Zack’s friend Ieuan, and stays for the most part off-stage – except for his hand, which pokes through the stage curtain.
Humorous dialogue between Zach and his wife sets the tone for this amusing, one-hour show set in Port Talbot, Wales. Ieuan is as unaware of the source of Zach’s trauma as we the audience are. Zach attempts to overcome this trauma through the taking of ecstasy, but if anything this seems to put him even more on edge. He lashes out at the cardboard box, and by extension himself. In a vividly experimental moment of theatre, lights flash as Zack and Ieuan dance ecstatically to rave music.
Unsurprisingly, for a play about mental health, Give Me Your Love delves into some dark territory. What is remarkable, however, is how it manages to maintain a sense of levity throughout, without seeming disrespectful to real victims of PTSD. It is sometimes claimed that laughter is the best medicine, and whilst this might not strictly be true, the humour running through Give Me Your Love’s sharp script make the more disturbing – even disgusting – moments of the play easier to swallow.
Physical theatre isn’t for everyone, but for those who enjoy seeing the boundaries of theatre pushed and challenged, Give Me Your Love is an extraordinary hour of performance art.