Review: A Journey Round My Skull at The Spring, Havant

Nadia Albina and John Kelly in Reasons To Be Cheerful.  Picture by  Patrick Baldwin

Show’s new Blockheads song is a reason to be cheerful

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A Journey Round My Skull is an intimate, strange and complex little play produced by KILN.

In it the audience as a whole, and you as an individual, play the part of the lover / patient with a brain tumour.

Opposite you, in the lead role, is co-writer Olivia Winteringham playing Julia, the doctor / surgeon.

Described post-show in a cast Q&A as a ‘poetic simulation of a potentially terrifying experience’ the play takes you, its complicit partner, on a narrative love story which stops for a while in a lecture hall to learn about brain structure, passes through desperation and comes out the other end in a way which was, to me, wholly unexpected.

The experience was intense from start to finish; I did not want to let Julia down. And so when she noted – with extraordinary insight into the human condition – that ‘you are shamed enough to indulge me’ I had to agree.

At one point, when the audience was seamlessly directed to put on headphones, I couldn’t bring myself to disobey – even though I knew that the suction sounds of a craniotomy were to follow. Brain surgery can’t be the easiest topic to write about successfully, but it worked and it’s a topic I won’t forget for a long time.