Friday, September 4, 2015

Brain - a Fringe Festival Review 2015

Brain wasn't at all what I expected.  I don't know why, but I thought it'd be some kind of scientific explanation about how the brain functions.  Instead it's a very personal story that's both amusing and disturbing.  It helped me understand a bit more about how my own brain functions, and I left with a new awareness of how OCD, the obsessive compulsive disorder that so many of us joke about, can actually take over someone's mind.

If this is Brendan McLeod's own story, as his indicates it is, he's a very brave man.  It's not easy to live with a history of mental illness, there's always judgment and stigma associated with that.  It's strange that it's called "illness," really, when it's really just about people trying to sort out who they are and what it's all about.  Thanks to Brendan who confidently and skillfully guides us through the adolescent brain with its conflicting hormonal influences and rebellious attitudes, to describe the moment his brain and body disassociated entirely in an experience of pure psychosis, to the educated University brain/mind/body/ego/self combination that seeks to find meaning and direction from life.

Obviously a skilled spoken word artist, Brendan's show flowed so perfectly I often found myself running to catch up after pausing, just for a moment, to reflect on some new idea or thought that I'd rather have stayed to ponder.  But there wasn't time!  Brendan only paused for brief moments in between story sets, and then we were off on a new journey.  His description of how he so perfectly rehearsed the Lord's Prayer, inside his adolescent brain on the way to school, in order to get into God's good books and keep himself out of trouble, translated completely to the way his words played one upon the other in this story of his ultimate quest - to find morality and meaning beyond the God/Father religion.

I didn't want the story to end.  I wanted to know if Brendan ever found something, perhaps from a different wisdom tradition, maybe yoga, chanting, or meditation, to help calm and/or order his perpetually flowing circular brainscape.  Did he ever realize answers to his questions about morality, is there a code of conduct that we can live by if we choose a secular reality? 

Brendan left us with advice - never take your own awareness for granted, and remember there's always one more chance to get it right.  Maybe if we can all just find a place to feel we can safely share our stories, we'll begin to lighten up and laugh at ourselves rather than so harshly judge our own efforts to survive this often crazy irrational world.

See Brain at Venue 4 - VCM's Wood Hall - Friday the 4th at 8:15, Saturday the 5th at 10:45 pm, Sunday the 6th at 1 pm.  And go early ... the show I saw was sold out.