Evan Placey’s WiLd! tackles a young boy’s experience of life imaginatively and empathetically as it describes the condition Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
The sole character in the play is a little boy called Billy. Billy is in year six; a transitional point in life where the safety of primary school ends and the adolescent world of secondary school looms. Billy is a character which we all recognise: that one trouble maker who poked you with pencils and flicked elastic bands at the teacher. Although often a reflection of inner turmoil than of malicious naughtiness, these behaviours annoy the rest of the class endlessly.
Rhys Warrington, in an energetic and entrancing performance, manages to embody both Billy the trouble-maker as well as the vulnerability of a kid his age. The audience watches as Warrington unwraps the deeper and misunderstood layers which such a person holds. In his insecurities, vulnerabilities and dreams we can each connect with him in our own way. Placey’s WiLd! aims to unpack the dismissal of children with ADHD. After watching WiLd!, I felt I understood a little more how detrimental it can be to ascribe normality. ADHD behaviour is not a thing to be condemned or ignored, but better understood.
The motifs which run throughout the play are perfectly planted, each one holding a dimension which further illuminates the complex psychological and emotional difficulties experienced by Billy. In one scene, Billy is in a meeting with his apologetic mother and unforgiving headmaster, but a butterfly out the window catches his attention. He watches the motion of its wings before it flies away, free. This is just one of the symbolic motifs which pepper the play, creatively and intricately building insight into the wondrousness of Billy’s mind.
The play captures the minds and imagination of children and adults alike. The childish processes of thought and imagination allow adults to recall the same in themselves at that age. Warrington’s impersonations of other figures in his life – a classmate’s disapproving mum, his older brother, a doctor – humorously and accurately depict characters we recognise from our own lives. Warrington uses the props with energetic finesse to create a magic which at once captivates the senses whilst dynamically giving insight into the mind of a child who struggles with the world and his ADHD. Lifting the lid of a beehive releases a puff of smoke, projections of light appear to visualise elements of the plot and Billy clambers up a climbing frame, hooking his legs under one of the poles and playfully hangs upside down – all creating a constant flow of entertainment and intrigue.
Not to forget all the while the ‘one-man band’ Molly Lopresti, accompanies Billy’s each and every move and display of emotion with music and sounds which act to further express Billy’s inner psyche. Lopresti’s impressive set up and astounding skill adds another unusual and exciting element to the play, guaranteed to keep the attention of children and the wonder of adults too! Although perhaps possible to criticise that the music and movement and dialogue is a little repetitive, it ultimately works in giving the audience an idea of the feeling of frustration that is felt by those who live each day with ADHD. There are certain movements which the audience quickly learn to correlate with certain sounds made my Lopresti, which signal a particular thought or feeling expressed by Billy. Particularly for children, this vibrant way of conveying ideas really works.
The play is a flying success in being entertaining, moving and informative.
The show is touring until 10th July. For more information about tour dates, visit: http://tutti-frutti.org.uk/show/wild-by-evan-placey/.