If you read Narrative with the complex and magical combination of his earlier two plays, its value and resonance comes to life with a tragic quality. The fear of death, the misunderstood and never-ending stories of our complex lives; the pains, the passion and power of love, that fails to understand the mental illness that now hides in one of each four of us.
I too, a year ago, became one of those statistics, drowning in a silent deep depression, almost losing my life to a tsunami of tragedy that invisibly stirs up inside. Like Narrative’s protagonists, I was manic, obsessive, compulsive and lost. Clutching to anyone and everyone after a few weeks of attention; submitting their kind souls to a relentless rollercoaster of emotional carnage. Desperate for a message or meaning to move on in life, far beyond the boxes of Deal or No Deal! Identifying completely with the Realism of Stuart’s talking cat Galloway, yearning for a visit from Lisa’s Dissocian Polar Bear, with his comforting lamenting lullaby. My inner and outer wonderful worlds were a distant dissocial disaster.
In our fragmented and disjointed lives, we often try to end our story, before we can truly understand it. Unconsciously creating our own hell, through guilt or gluttony. The ego and negativity we see staring back from the webcam screen or in shattered mirrors lasts much longer than the supposed seven years. A lifetime in some cases.
I'll never forget my first Neilson play. It had such an amazing effect on me, I was hooked. The complete package of Buether’s box sets, Powell’s poignant specific sounds and Chahine’s shimmering empathic warm lighting that adds the sparkle and magic, to Neilson’s tragically funny thoughts. In Narrative, Marneur’s sparse spaced set of white washed walls and shattered mirrors, reflect our empty shattered lives, as we watch still waters polluted by piss and blood. Even the younger reflected innocent faces, underline the older egos. Completely washed away in the finale, by the filthy waters of life, leaving a clean line of enlightened innocence.
Critiqued for its disjointed and frustratingly unfinished nature, Narrative’s beauty hides in the reality of our own heaven or hell. Be that hidden, in the deep still water of our thoughts or in the frantic rush of our daily lives. The London Bus analogy is well worth the fare in itself!
Art truly does reflect life, and in his own words, may we shower Neilson in feathers for those who ‘don’t get to finish their story’.