I WAS horrified by the portrayal of mental illness and inpatient psychiatric care in the performance of Matthew Bourne's Romeo and Juliet I witnessed at the King's Theatre, Glasgow last night (September 26).

The stage setting is an institution where young people are kept against their will. Juliet is raped by a character who is dressed as a prison warden who later presents as drunk, homophobic and sadistic.

Romeo is depicted as a wealthy young man brought in by his parents who “sign him in” as he displays motor tics which are played for laughs.

The nurses are along the Nurse Ratched style from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and the overall production is deeply stigmatising towards those who have mental illnesses and need inpatient care and those of us who work hard to provide high quality services.

Bad things have happened in psychiatric services. In the past people of all ages could be signed into asylums by families for dubious reasons. So much hard work has taken place over the past decades with the voice of people with lived experience of mental illness informing how their rights are protected and the least restrictive care is provided.

It is increasingly difficult to provide inpatient psychiatric care with high levels of staff sickness due to the physical and mental fallout from this important work. Nurses, in particular, are subjected to aggressive attacks by unwell patients which can result in career ending injuries.

This careless representation of psychiatric care which is mashed up with a totalitarian regime reinforces the worst stereotypes of psychiatric illness and treatment. This show should be withdrawn and revised to remove the entirely gratuitous portrayal of dated and unacceptable mental health care.

Dr Elaine Lockhart, Consultant psychiatrist for children and young people, Glasgow.

Read more: Stop bombarding our schools with politically inspired negativity

Ayr hotel could be salvaged

THE news of a second devastating fire at Ayr's Station Hotel ("Despite this devastating blaze, Ayr’s Station Hotel must be saved", The Herald, September 27) was hard to hear but sadly becoming more and more familiar. Calls by some to demolish the building to rejuvenate the appearance of the town centre, and avoid the disruption caused by scaffolding and safety fences and so on, are in one sense understandable. However, very careful consideration needs to be given to the future of this historically and culturally significant building before quick but irreversible decisions are made.

As an experienced conservation architect, I and my practice have been involved in the salvage, repair and restoration of several noteworthy large historic buildings which were similarly damaged by serious fires. In all of these cases, although the interiors of the building may have been lost and the structure damaged by fire, there has always been significant parts of the building which have been salvageable.

Combined with information from historical records, photographs and previous surveys, the restoration of the building should be more than practical, with a new beneficial use found for the building. The first step in confirming this should be an inspection of the building to establish the damage caused by the most recent fire, followed by any urgent repairs required to stabilise the structure and prevent further deterioration of the building while a more considered strategy is developed.

Retaining and reusing the building with a new use is clearly a more economic, sustainable and culturally appropriate solution to razing the building to the ground and I hope that in the coming hours and days common sense will prevail and that the loss of this important building can be avoided.

Ewan Lawson, Partner, Simpson & Brown, Edinburgh.

Let them end the suffering

I AGREE with the sentiment expressed in the headline on Alastair Rigg's letter (September 27), " Leave the medics to save lives", but would add "where and when they can".

Mr Rigg seems not to understand that there are always people whom the best medics in the world are unable to save. Currently these poor souls are required to suffer long-term in the UK. Despite palliative care and no matter the state of the NHS they will die.

If Liam McArthur's bill is properly constituted, only the suffering dying person will be able to plead for assisted dying if the medics agree. If one votes against such a bill one is showing no mercy and condemning dying people to extended and unnecessary long-term suffering.

Gordon Caskie, Campbeltown.

Alcohol pricing is working

WITHOUT citing any evidence, Ian Balloch (Letters, September 23) states falsely that minimum alcohol pricing is ineffectual. May I direct him to a report by the BMJ (June 2023) stating that analysis of the results of 12 studies it commissioned, together with 40 research papers, conclude that the policy has reduced deaths directly caused by alcohol by 13.4% and related hospital admissions by 4.1%.

Lawrence Gurney, Ardrossan.

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Moving experience

YOUR On this Day feature (September 27) states that the first "moving pavement” in Europe opened at Bank Underground Station in London in 1960. That is incorrect.

The first moving pavement in Europe was built in Paris for the 1900 Exposition Universelle. It was more than two miles long and ran from Quai d’Orsay to Les Invalides, Champs de Mar and the Eiffel Tower.

Gordon Stewart, Newton Stewart.

Past glories

MAY I add my thanks to those of Malcolm Parkin (Letters, September 27) for your publishing of photographs from your Herald Picture Store? My reaction on seeing these is to work out how old I was at the time, no mean feat at my age, where I would have been, and what I might have been doing.

Peter Benchley, author of Jaws, wrote that the past always seems better when you look back on it than it did at the time.

How true.

David Miller, Milngavie.

The Tay Road Bridge mystery

MY recollection is that Onyir Todd’s sidekick was a blonde (what else?) named Kinky Boot (Letters, September 27). Together, they were out to foil a wicked English gang intent on stealing the newly-opened Tay Road Bridge (this was August 1966).

The blonde Kinky proved that she wasn’t so daft after all, for the night before the bridge was to be stolen, she and Onyir cast a magic spell which shrank the bridge to a manageable gewgaw just six inches long. She then disguised the miniature bridge as a comb in her beehive hairstyle.

Is there anyone out there who can remind me how the tale concluded?

Gordon Casely, Crathes.