Self Preservation: Keep on Keeping on

“You’re not what I want but you are what I need”

Scout Boxall’s Self Preservation is a beautiful new play exploring the complicated relationship between people with chronic illnesses and their medication. The piece, divided in three distinct acts exploring three illnesses, combines elements of physical theatre, poignant monologues, and some dark humour.

Prior to writing Self Preservation, Boxall researched the topic in depth, drawing from her own experience, and working closely with people suffering from chronic illness. In her piece, Boxall captures three different ways of relating to chronic illness through medication: a lifelong relationship with medication and chronic illness, someone who is blasé about their condition, and someone who considers themselves to be constantly fighting their condition.

Boxall surrounds herself with an incredible cast and production team. Direction by Karla Livingstone-Pardy and Madeleine Kerr is creative and seamless. The movement sequences complement each scene and add depth to the story. Working closely with each character, Livingstone-Pardy and Kerr manage to bring to life three contrasting stories, exploring different aspects of self-medication. Sound design by Moses Carr is one of the highlights of the show: the soundscape is a real masterpiece, adding yet another dimension to the piece. Lighting design by Kareena Dhaliwal was simple but effective.

The three performers, Georgie Pender, Evangeline Stoios, and Eunice Zeng, are all equally as amazing in the portrayal of their characters, burdened by bipolar disorder, juvenile myoclonic epilepsy, and cyclic neutropenia respectively. Pender’s touching monologue at the end of the first act is especially moving, as she discusses the ups-and-downs of her relationship with her antipsychotic medication. Stoios also offers a beautiful performance as a young and somewhat reckless up-and-coming comedian, trapped in a bathroom on the verge of a seizure, perfectly highlighting the uncertainty of living with a chronic illness. In the final act, Zeng portrayal of an over-achiever living with a rare blood disease is poignant. The chemistry between the three actors shines throughout the entire piece, and their performance is captivating from start to finish.

Overall, Self Preservation is a beautiful work of art that covers a diverse range of stories, and explores a theme that is rarely discussed, in an ingenious way.

Alexandre Guérin

Self Preservation ran from the 24th – 26th of August as part of Mudfest 2017. 

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