Review: Give Me Your Love (Seymour Centre)

Venue: Seymour Centre (Chippendale NSW), Oct 31 – Nov 4, 2017
Playwright: Jon Haynes, David Woods
Director: Jon Haynes, David Woods
Cast: Jon Haynes, David Woods

Theatre review
Not only is Zach trapped in his room, he has resolved to stay inside a cardboard box, never to emerge. Jon Haynes and David Woods’ Give Me Your Love portrays life after war, for a Welsh soldier suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Although wildly imagined, the work never deviates from a sense of authenticity in the way it discusses mental illness. The comedy is clearly outlandish in style, but the scope of its concerns remains faithful to a sense of accuracy, and urgency, in its depiction of a veiled but serious social problem.

It is an enormously witty show, and fantastically inventive, not only with its clever dialogue, but also in the sheer theatricality of what it presents. Jacob Williams’ set design is viscerally affecting, powerfully evocative of spaces in and around our protagonist. Zach’s tattered box is wielded masterfully by Woods, like an oversized mask. In his best moments, we connect in a profound way to the agony being explored, and reach a decent understanding of the difficult psychology and emotions, as experienced by those who live with PTSD. We can see that Zach is being ridiculous, but in quite an inexplicable way, we know what it feels like, to persist with behaviour that makes no sense.

Give Me Your Love relies on our universal need for empathy. The audience is introduced to an extraordinary set of circumstances, but the storytelling touches us intimately, and we recognise Zach’s dysfunction to be fundamentally human. It is also about sacrifice, personal and communal, inevitable and unfortunate. Life does not permit anyone to go through it unscathed. Damage will be done, but it is when we learn to heal the wounded, that we can begin to regain some control.