When Biddy starts to go off the rails at a music festival, her friends just assume it’s the drugs. But when she fails to come down from her outrageous high, the men in white coats are called to take her away.
The cast is engaging, switched-on and do an entertaining job of telling the story of a young woman who just isn’t coping. Using costume, live music and props, they take us from Biddy’s relatively normal 20-something life of bitching with friends, consoling them after break-ups, and drinking Starbucks coffee, to her regression to childish tantrums and penchant for singing at inappropriate times.
Whilst Phoebe Taylor’s Biddy is unhinged, loud and in your face, Zachary Hunt as fellow patient Alex is dark and brooding, with a madness that is silently bubbling close to the surface. Leona Allen as Maggie AKA Neil is the neurotic and delusional woman in love with Liam Gallagher – arguably one of the best moments in the play is Allen’s ecstatic face when the cast performs Oasis’s ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ for her. Tom Roe and Scarlet Sheriff are the calm and collected forces that underscore Biddy’s descent into and subsequent journey back out of madness.
Sheriff, as a friend of Biddy and acting as a sort of narrator, raises pertinent questions about how we view sanity in different spaces: at a festival, anything goes. Crazy about your ex? Understandable. But where is the line between figurative crazy and actual crazy? Whose reality is really real? Why are face paints and glitter okay in a field, but not in the bath?
Sadly the plot lacks in that it is a little hard to believe that a 24-year-old girl with no history of mental illness mentioned can just totally lose it, only to come back out the other side six months later, all roses. The psychiatric hospital scenes are sometimes a little too flippant; Chlorine is a highly characterised parody, and one may consider the ethics and indeed merit of dealing with mental illness through comedy. But at times the work is terrifyingly down to earth. Slickly executed by all involved, the piece is instantly likeable and highly enjoyable.
Chlorine plays at Zoo Southside on until 25 August 2014 as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. For more information and tickets visit the EdFringe website.