Oestrogen On Trial
Written by Neil Cole
Venue: La Mama@Carlton Courthouse
Feel like something different in a play? Go and see Oestrogen On Trial. It will bring to life a forgotten issue, which many of us, turn a blind eye to. Mental illness, and just how we have ignored, its affects on people, in the past and present.
The actors portray schizophrenia, from the way the doctors treat it, in an unsuccessful manner. We see through Aimee Blesing (hereinafter referred to as the Professor), how incompetent the medical profession can be.
The whole issue of using oestrogen, to treat schizophrenia, is a medical nightmare. Twenty-three patients were trialled and tested, with this drug, to control and perhaps cure them, of their condition.
All of them fell pregnant. This occurred at a time, when the public psychiatric institutions all over Melbourne, closed down, about fifteen years ago.
The patients were “integrated” into society, with the wider “normal” community.
Who were the authorities trying to fool? Integration is one thing, but the patients were left to fight on their own, to be normal citizens. They received insufficient support. This was seen through Fabienne Parr, who played Natasha, the schizophrenic patient.
The mood created by Natasha as she was given oestrogen, was flared up into fury. It made her horny, which led to pregnancy.
The pathetic professor, wanted to prevent these mentally ill patients from falling pregnant all together. At the same time it was hoped, that the oestrogen medication, would help cure them of their condition.
The professor was assisted by a dumbo side kick, Georgina Capper, who played Isabelle. Isabelle also fell pregnant, so it looked as if the psychologist (Isabelle) had the same brains as Natasha, the patient.
Isabelle was told off by the professor, for being as simple minded as Natasha. For Isabelle did not follow, the theme of the fertility programme, run by the professor.
Another two important questions were raised.
Firstly, Natasha should have been treated, as a normal human being, who was respected in the community, which she was integrating into.
Society should have looked forward, at how medical, financial and social assistance, should be given to former patients, who were discharged indefinitely from hospital.
Or else outsiders, who looked inside the world of medical specialists, who treated schizophrenics, might expose the inconsistencies of the medical profession.
Could this be the media? Yes sir, you are right.
Erin Keleher, who played Kimberley, was the crafty journalist in the play. Kimberley let the press, namely, the newspapers report this whole mumbo-jumbo, rat-bag incompetence by the professor. The media made a field day out of it.
The case was taken to court. At one stage it looked as if both the professor and the judge hearing the case, were crazier than Natasha. The brief court hearing, which lasted for several sessions, was a relief.
The audience was distracted from all the tension, screaming, confrontation and horror of how mental illness and medication are misused and abused, in the patient-psychiatrist relationship. It is safe to say, that the court scenes, were a form of comic relief, for the audience.
We had a few laughs, there were some screams but in the end, what happened you may ask? The journalist, Kimberley, who was outwitted at one stage in court, finally exposed the whole hypocrisy, incompetence and flaws in the psychiatric profession.
The fourth estate, meaning the world of journalism, outsmarted the medical and legal profession, just to let the audience, and in this case, the patients performing in front of us, that journalists always win in the end, so do not cross them.
Just an important statement before I fly, on the way the play, was presented to the audience. It all worked out well. The scenes were well lit. It was good to see the lights dimmed down, at times, and the spot light was on Natasha, when she gave soliloquies to the audience.
In terms of sound, all the actresses were well spoken and easy to understand, with clear verbal expression. Acoustics were quite good, even though La Mama is such an old building.
In relation to costumes, all the actresses were dressed as dags except for the journalist, Kimberley.
Natasha and Kimberley were impressive as they dressed in conservative, formal clothes when they worked together as journalists. Natasha the judge was dressed in legal robes, but was also a daggy elderly lady.
Who cares about costumes? It is all part of the fun of acting. Overall, a great performance, for the people responsible for the show and La Mama for presenting it.