27 May Beautiful Highness – Chapel Off Chapel
Based on a true story, Beautiful Highness centres around one family’s incredible grit and determination in dealing with mental ill-health. Unsentimental, heartwarming and gently humorous, the play crystallises just how important a sense of belonging and connection is for all of us. It is an empathy recharge for those living with or supporting someone with a diagnosis; family members, carers and practitioners.
The play was written by Chelsea Plumley and directed by Sara Grenfell.
I guess the range of perceptions about schizophrenia is as varied as the people who live with a diagnosis of it. However, I guess we could say that up until this point, there has been a pretty ugly stigma around this condition.
And I get it. I know that it can be pretty messy, and sometimes quite confronting. But it seems that the media has a tendency to be sensationalist, and sometimes people fail to see the ‘person’ beyond this condition.
Beautiful Highness does not shy away from showing that messy, confronting side of schizophrenia. Shelley lives in a messy government flat and typically lights a cigarette before she gets out of bed in the morning. Her voices are unsavoury in nature and torture her with themes of sometimes challenging sexual nature. Not to mention the fact that her medication makes her want to sleep at unsociable times, and all this results in tense relationships with many members of her family.
Thankfully, Shelley does have one person in her corner. Her sister Samantha tirelessly advocates on her behalf and spends time helping Shelley to live a life she loves.
But, as things often do, for people living with schizophrenia, Shelley’s situation goes awry. And the play Beautiful Highness gets pretty intense.
You will have to watch the play to see what happens!
Tears came to my eyes at the moment when her son thought he had lost her. And tears poured down my face during the final scene. I guess it was unexpected to see such a sensitive and thoughtful portrayal of the topic of living with schizophrenia. And the play was very moving. I guess it just hit a nerve in me. (It must have been the empathy!) But it really was a beautiful highness. And I am richer for it.
I hope it gets picked up for further distribution. It is absolutely brilliant!