By Hannah Morpeth (September’s gust blogger)
Butterfly is a real and touching exploration of post-partum psychosis, asking the question just how much can you forgive the actions of someone you love when they’re ill.
We are immediately flung into the present-day life of Alice as she lies on her hospital bed awaiting plastic surgery for facial burns, in bursts husband Lee and we get our first insight into their troubling world of parenthood and mental illness.
Butterfly is beautifully structured in a way that enables us to see Alice at her most well and completely in love with Lee right up until the present day when she is traumatised by the aftermath of a psychotic episode. It allows us, as audience to truly connect with Alice the mother, Alice the wife, Alice the woman suffering mental illness and make the connection as to how they can all be the same person. It is initially very easy to push the blame onto Alice for the fire in her house, after all she was the one holding the lighter and the baby but the clever progression of the play has you questioning where the blame lies or if it lies anywhere at all.
Charlton’s writing dealt with the subject of mental illness in a delicate way that highlights not only the risks associated with post-partum psychosis but also educates the audience to a point where you couldn’t help but empathise with Alice. Charlton also managed to tackle the issue of alcohol abuse within the play with the character of Alice’s mother, Tracey again managing to ask a big question: what influence does having growing up with a mother who abuses alcohol have on a child? None of these issues were particularly answered within the play, nor did I expect them to be but it did leave me thinking about them afterwards – a true sign that they have been tackled with sensitivity and bravery.
Despite the heavy subject area, Butterfly still maintained an element of lightness in the use of flash-backs to the younger, happier years of Alice’s life.
A story of love, loss and illness Butterfly is a poignant show not to be missed. Visit Northern Nomad’s website for more information on future tour dates.