One Thinks of it All as a Dream
Oran Mor, Glasgow
Play, Pie, Pint
17th – 22nd October
Script: Stagecraft: Performance:
Specially commissioned for the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival and in association with Traverse Theatre and Aberdeen Performing Arts, this week A Play, A Pie and a Pint ‘One Thinks of it All as a Dream’ by acclaimed writer-director team Alan Bissett and Sacha Kyle centres around the enigmatic and immensely talented Pink Floyd frontman Roger ‘Syd’ Barrett (Euan Cuthbertson). From the outset you are immediately exposed to the erratic and confusing behaviour of Syd, as Cuthbertson, so dynamically vaults between seemingly normal behaviour and sparks of madness and volatility in behaviour.
As you absorb this beginning, the arrival of Syd’s bandmates Roger Waters (Andrew John Tait), Richard Wright (Ewan Petrie) and Nick Mason (David James Kirkwood), and effective use of stage lighting we are transported back in time and the lifelike feeling of being in the London Underground Music scene and the psychedelic world of the band. We are taken on their journey to the dizzy height of fame under the leadership of Barrett.
Flashbacks to his father reading him stories as a child to drug fuelled hallucinations interlaced with periods of clarity, brilliance expression of talent and musical ability that propelled Pink Floyd to the level of stardom in the Late 60’s, early 70’s. Cuthbertson vividly expresses through the immensely well written script, that Barrett was a visionary and wanted create the music of the 70’s. At times you question your developing opinion, is he suffering from mental health or simply playing a part, a role, performed for his artistic enjoyment and at the expense of others around him.
However all was not well and soon we are exposed to the alternate world of Barrett and the dark, destructive, emotional portrayal of a man haunted by his deteriorating mental health and the damaging impact it has upon his relationship with his band mates. Brilliantly supported by Tait, Petrie and Kirkwood I became engrossed in the internal politics of the band and each individual members battle to come to terms with Barrett and his increasingly erratic behaviour and inability to perform on occasions. Collectively torn between their loyalty for him and the demands of fame and the increasing commercial success, they eventually replace him. This plunges Barrett into the depths of isolation and as I watch the story unfold there is a real emotional connection to the despair, isolation and stigma attached to the poignant events, captured so eloquently by Cuthbertson, not only in his words but his body language and facial expressions.
Barrett retreats into his own world, no longer able to express his artistic talents through music, turns to art and painting as his solace. We are treated to moments of reflection by his bandmates are they reminisce over songs written and performed with Barrett and I genuinely felt their respect for him, for his talents, yet there is a melancholy, a feeling of loss, and the decision they made.
Fast forward some years and the reunion of Barrett with the band. When Barrett arrives so much has been the toil of his battle, he is unrecognisable to his band mates who initially dismiss him, his physical demeanour so dramatically and drastically different to their memories of him past. Only as he engages with them, expressing himself again, do they become awake to his presence and embrace him into the band once again.
Laced throughout the play, the funny and witty interaction between the characters shines a light onto the sometimes dark and taboo subject of mental health and the emotional, tragic and damaging impact it has upon the soul of person. Exploring Barrett’s journey provides a thought provoking opportunity to examine our own thoughts and feelings and I was left with a feeling of having gained a wonderful, if not poignant, insight in the life of the immensely talented Roger ‘Syd’Barrett.
Reviewer : Kathleen Cooper