CLEVER, clever Ridiculusmus - they've devised a show about how to treat schizophrenia that will leave you in two minds. At least. The space itself is divided in two, with a separate drama running simultaneously on either side. The actions sometimes criss-cross, raised voices from unseen characters can be hear - it's knowingly on the cusp of chaos. Halfway through, you switch sides, in a re-run of events and the jigsaw that is one family's dysfunction - with mother and son both having psychotic episodes - gathers a few more pieces.
What seems unreasonable behaviour on one side of the wall has understandable triggers when characters are seen in the other context. Meanwhile, the debatable issue of relying on pills to control, if not to "cure", schizophrenia is threaded through the communication breakdown that sends the members of this family into meltdown - and many of us into fits of laughter.
Whether you're entertained, enlightened or confused will depend on how you view experimental theatre, mental illness - and possibly which side you sit on first. Trying to tell both sides of this story at once, however, reinforces the reputation Jon Haynes and David Woods (aka Ridiculusmus) have as purveyors of intellectual provocation and serious comedy.
Runs to August 24
IF you wanted to run away from your personal problems, how far would you run? Would joining a mission to Mars be far enough? This manned expedition to the Red Planet is not something NASA has initiated, however: Anna and her two male companions are on board the space equivalent of Big Brother. Every moment en route is being beamed back to Earth for broadcast because Mars Pioneer is a reality show that relies on ratings and commercial sponsors.
There are a lot of threads running through this resourcefully staged three-hander from Square Peg Theatre. Props are minimal, but the cast - Katie Robinson, Dominic Myerscough and writer/director Michael White - move clearly and smoothly between past and present times, revealing the reasons (and the doubts) that Anna has taken with her into space even as we watch the trio coming to terms with what they've signed up to.
Trust, often misplaced, emerges as a theme. So too does the tension between our private and our public selves - why does it seem easier to expose yourself on television, but resist emotional intimacy in relationships? And there is, too, a strand that introduces art into the equation with poetry - Auden in particular - and Breughel's Icarus a reminder that the "old Masters" had insights grounded in wise humanity.
Runs to August 24