That Voice Within - Review of theatrethreesixty's Adult Child/Dead Child

Where do you turn to when there is no one who will love you? And what do you do with the voice inside your head that won’t go away? Last weekend, 23-year old Tania Knutt and 25-year old Nick Dorian under the tutelage of artistic director, Christopher Ling, took on the task of telling the lonely tale of a young person embarking on life’s most terrifying journey – the road to adulthood – all while experiencing the pain of being unloved & the infliction of schizophrenia.

Over a 4-day run from 18-19 December, theatrethreesixty mollified the palates of local theatre enthusiasts with 2 versions of British playwright, Claire Dowie’s monologue Adult Child/Dead Child; which though seemingly distinct by gender differences (Ling’s original idea for the production), was in reality just two actors performing two vastly different versions of the same story.

Photo credits: Aldwin Lee

“Nick performs a very typical “actor” version of the story, where he gets into character and draws the audience in, re-enacting moments and acts out the story. It’s a very external performance. The female version on the other hand, is a story-tellers version where Tania is compelled to look inwards as she reads out incidents and happenings to the audience,” says Ling who dreamt of staging it soon after his first encounter with the piece, while completing his studies in London in the early 90s. Also complementing the production was a visceral visual score by Tarrant Kwok, which featured dramatic images projected on the set to complete the theatrical experience, giving the audience yet another parallel dimension of the narrative.

The 60-minute play deals with the realities of developing schizophrenia sans the cliché of multiple actors portraying the voices in the sufferer's head. It unlocks the daily realities and unlooked-for consequences of the condition from the perspective of the adult looking back on the muddled and sometimes innocent child-self, which was in itself an eye-opener into how we perceive (and possibly misread) childish behaviours from the innocent imaginary friends to more implicating acts of blame displacement and insolence.

The slightly sinister title, which remains far from explanatory even after one has watched both female, male and combined versions of the piece, does give the impression of a tale of family ills and a dejected childhood but while it does bear some of those earmarks – it was in truth, enlightening and peculiarly pleasant that even sceptics might consider turning a blind eye to it’s sugar-coated, happily-ever-after-esque ending.

This article was published on January 5, 2015 in The Malay Mail.