Book – Find Me
Author – Olwen Wymark
Year – 1977
Pages – 40
Genre – Play
Characters – 8 (3m, 5f, but very flexible numbers)
Somehow, the play Find Me totally passed me by. Alex studied this one and said it would be a good one to do at school, but I had never heard of it at all. Somehow, a copy came into my possession though, and was pretty much randomly selected by me as yesterdays Play-A-Day.
The story is of Verity, who has an unnamed series of mental health issues that cause her to have social issues, psychotic episodes and be incredibly difficult for her family to deal with. Edward and Jean, her parents, become increasingly despairing of the way that there are simply not enough provisions set up for her, and we chart her life from the age of about eight until she is twenty years old, going in and out of institutions and home.
Stylistically, it is abstract and interesting, with the eight performers playing around thirty different roles, and five different actors playing Verity at different points. It gives the play a lot of scope for performance, and although I sometimes despair at plays that multi-role but don’t give instruction as to who plays who – I know that is part of a director’s job, but it can really cause confusion when you are working on something like this with kids – it adds a fascinating element to the play not just in terms of look, but also in connection to the subject matter.
Overall, the play is incredibly effecting. I read the whole thing with mouth slightly agape at the horrible situation that just about all of the characters find themselves in. Verity doesn’t get the help she needs, the parents are at their wits end, and despite obviously loving her are nowhere near able to cope, and even the medical and social professionals who regularly have to turn her away show remorse at how underfunded mental health facilities are. This is a theme that is as relevant today as it was when this play was first performed over forty years ago.